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Running from the Deity, by Alan Dean Foster
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Del Rey
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 11/3/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 3 out of 10

Running from the Deity, by Alan Dean Foster

Book Review by Teresa Baker

Have you read this book?

Flinx is a unique individual on a mission to save the universe from a Great Darkness. He travels on a special spaceship, The Teacher, with his empathic pet, Pip. Flinx also has empathic abilities; a special genetic augmentation known as the Talent. Anywhere sentient beings gather Flinx is overwhelmed by their emotions. Sometimes too overwhelmed; then something bad, something he can't control may overtake him and the results are deadly. It tends to make him a loner.

You could hardly blame him for being delighted to find himself on a planet where the emotions of the natives don't flood in to him, where he has no headaches, where it's peaceful for him for the first time in his life. As to the fact that he's breaking the laws of the Commonwealth by being on a planet too primitive to be in contact with space faring civilizations, well, they're not likely to find out. Teacher needed to make repairs and Arrawd was the best spot available.

From the time he encounters his first native, Flinx's understanding of the reasons for the strict laws governing contact with primitive civilizations grows; unfortunately, too little too late. Flinx has a major impact on the Dwarra and it's not likely they will ever be quite the same.

The aliens are nicely alien in appearance, though their culture and mores and psychology are depressingly like any other early, war torn culture. People profit at the expense of ignorant neighbors willing to believe a god has come among them to perform healing miracles. Kings want the advantage a superior alien can provide to defeat their enemies. Flinx has to 'fix' what he 'broke' as a consequence of disobeying a cardinal law of the Commonwealth.

There was nothing in this story anyone one familiar with "Star Trek's" notion, 'The Prime Directive', wouldn't see coming from a parsec away. There was no subtle nuance of theme or message to decode that makes Running From The Deity more than it seems on the surface-at least none I could find. Perhaps a follower of the series will immediately detect a 'bigger picture' and think me incompetent to review the 11th book of a series not having read the first 10. So be it.

Given the popular reputation Alan Dean Foster has, however, the last thing I expected was a plot with no pizzazz or freshness whatever. No surprises. No sophistication. It was a heck of a lot of fun, don't get me wrong. I liked Flinx enough to care what happens to him next. I simply didn't expect Running From The Deity to be so...basic. It felt like a story for people so na´ve about science fiction that they wouldn't know the consequences of first contact on a primitive world. I didn't expect that type of audience for a writer whose career spans more than 30 years and one hundred books. There was no sub-plot, only a last minute look at what a couple of other characters from 'the big picture' were doing. I wasn't challenged at all by Running From The Deity. I expected more substance from a writer with Mr. Foster's long standing success.

I can't predict how fans of the Pip and Flinx books will receive this latest addition to the saga; I can say it wasn't written with me in mind. I like a little more to chew on in my reading material, even in a story that wants more to entertain than to advance the genre.
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