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The January Dancer by Michael Flynn

01/01/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The January Dancer in the USA - or Buy The January Dancer in the UK

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pub: TOR/Sci Fi Channel. 252 page enlarged paperback. Price: $14.95 (US), $16.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1817-6.

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I'm getting a little concerned that I'm giving such a downer on some books, not to mention having to include 'The January Dancer' in this list. From the blurb, it sounded interesting in that an ancient alien artefact called a Dancer that endows great power surfaces and then moves through the hands of various people. The 'January' of the title is Captain Amos January and he and his crew are only there for a couple chapters. If anything, much of the story revolves around the Fudir, a criminal who also has various other names which might act as spoolers here. I suppose calling the book 'Fudir's Dancer' doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Most of the plot revolves trying to keep hold of the Dancer device and a tour of a couple worlds and a comparison to old Earth.

Far be it for me to suggest suppressing trying out different story formats, but to chuck away characters and areas of plot willy-nilly in a novel tends to lead to disjointed reading. Author Michael Flynn drops in the occasional spell for characters to be talking amongst themselves but so much of the time he ends up reporting events as though he's eager to move onto the next section. This dispassionate approach so deadens the story that when a character is killed in a couple words, you end up having to look twice before realising that there is no emotional impact for the other character who watched or felt about the situation. If they don't care, why should the reader? Ultimately, I ended up not caring as well.

The Dancer artefact isn't even exactly used in the story. Surely a 'Do, Not Say' situation would have re-enforced its importance and what revolves around it. A promising story let down by its execution I'm sorry to say. Read with caution.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 131 votes in the sci-fi charts

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