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Wizard by John Varley

Wizard (1980)

by John Varley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gaean Trilogy (2)

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1,36278,550 (3.89)13
Recently added byDavidClemens, NormalMostly, private library, nks44, wuksee, avarisclari, Mocate, DougBaker, yaxtor



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(Original Review, 1980-12-16)

It introduces more complications into the plot of the TITAN series, and clears up some nagging items as well; ever wonder what a satellite-brain looks like? What happens when tourism/ hits Gaea? What composers does a Titanide like?

I just finished reading “Wizard” by John Varley (at the cost of getting an incomplete in Philosophy because I was supposed to be writing a paper and of not studying for my Physics test tomorrow). “Wizard” was better than `Titan' and “The Ophuichi Hotline” (which are very good), but not as good as Varley's short stories (which are great). I don't know what that makes the book (excellent perhaps?), but in any case it is is definitely worth reading! It is the sequel to “Titan”. (I realize the period should be inside the quotes, but it looks really bad that way. Anyone interested in starting a movement to have punctuation placed where it should go and not where English books tell us it should go?) I suggest that you read `Titan' first if you want to read “Wizard” and haven't read “Titan”. From the end of “Wizard” it is obvious that it too will have a sequel called “Demon”. “Wizard” is the story of two humans, Robin (an epileptic) and Chris (a schizophrenic), who are two out of the ten people that are picked that year by Gaea - out of all humans - to be granted miracles. Robin and Chris want to be cured, but they find out that there is a big catch. They have loads of fun with Rocky, Gaby, and Gaea (who has gone somewhat bonkers). There is love, violence, sex, and buzz bombs. There are loads of neat creatures, new ideas, and wonderful imagination. To find out more, read it for yourself!

If you read "Titan", "Wizard" is a must read and in some ways I found it better. Varley's writing style is definitely showing signs of improving. I felt him to be fairly rough and simplistic in his early works. "Wizard" definitely picks up where "Titan" left off. Rocky has been "wizard" for many decades and has become tired of life. The story is of her and Gabby joining on a quest with two visitors who have come to Gaea to be cured of incurable illnesses and must prove themselves worthy of the "god's" notice. Of course, Gabby and Rocky have their own secret plans to take care of along the way, which is why they have joined this particular quest.

I found the book to be a good read, but since it is obviously the second book of a trilogy, borrow the hardcover to read or wait for the paperback to come out. (Unless you prefer to collect hardcover.)

This Voyager/Saturn activity has a Varleyesque feel to me. It really resonates with both Titan and the Ophiuchi Connection stuff. I wonder if it will show up in his future work. Speaking of Titan, it surprised me when I read it that he had ventured a specific number for the count of Saturn's known moons as of 2025 --- especially a number as low as 11. It seemed likely to me that Voyager would turn up more moons, as it has, making his book dated almost as soon as It appeared. That kind of specificity on real-world statistics is usually a bad idea in sf.

PS1. There are very substantial differences between the ANALOG version of "Titan" and the actual novel. A major subsection was simply eliminated from the novel in the serialization. Unfortunately that section plays a major role in Rocky's development. In my personal opinion, if you have only read the serialization you have not read "Titan".

[2018 EDIT: This review was written at the time as I was running my own personal BBS server. Much of the language of this and other reviews written in 1980 reflect a very particular kind of language: what I call now in retrospect a “BBS language”.] ( )
  antao | Nov 3, 2018 |
Another re-read. Great stuff. I think I need to return to Varley's other stuff as well.
  picklefactory | Jan 16, 2018 |
Continuation of Varley's trilogy is a must read, for all the reasons the first book was. Varley's imagination is mind-boggling. ( )
  datrappert | Oct 18, 2016 |
I bought this ages ago after buying (but not yet reading) the first book in the Gaea trilogy, Titan. I came across it in a second-hand bookstore and figured I may as well pick it up because it was a safe bet that I’d probably like Titan. I wish I hadn’t, because I was wrong, and my completist OCD means I have to read Demon as well now.

Wizard picks up about a hundred years after the events of Titan, in which a NASA expedition discovers an intelligent, godlike alien the size of a planet and the shape of a torus habitat in orbit around Saturn, with lots of other alien species living on it. At the end of that novel the former captain, Cirocco, was granted immortality in exchange for acting as Gaea’s “Wizard” – a sort of agent or ambassador. It was apparent that some of Gaea’s autonomous sub-brains were rebelling against her, but I still didn’t find it particularly clear as to what the Wizard does or why Gaea needed one.

Gaea is now inhabited by a number of humans as well, who have come to settle and explore and – in the case of a few pilgrims – implore Gaea to cure what ails them. Two new characters in this vein are introduced (one of whom is an insufferable straw feminist) and most of the book details a voyage around Gaea’s circumference with these two, Cirocco, Gaby, and a bunch of the stupid centaur aliens. (The other members of the NASA crew, who are presumably still alive and still on Gaea, are never once mentioned.)

Now, I know it was the 1970s, but Varley spent far too much time dreaming up alien sexual characteristics, and far too much of this novel details inter-species sex. I cannot imagine how deeply uncomfortable it would be to sit at a public reading in which Varley read, out loud, dialogue between characters concerning how sex works with regards to the centaur aliens with two separate sets of genitals – which, when it comes to the specifics of four-way parentage and different conception methods, was not only bizarre but very, very boring.

Varley is a good author. The Golden Globe is one of my favourite novels of all time. But the Gaea trilogy simply isn’t good, and not just for people who aren’t interested in human-alien sex. It rambles, it often gets bogged down in spatial descriptions, and the central crux of the novels – the conflict between Gaea and her sub-regions – is underdeveloped, because it never feels like much of a threat or a concern. I’ll still read Demon, but I don’t expect to enjoy it, and I don’t recommend this trilogy even for fans of Varley’s other work. ( )
  edgeworth | Sep 29, 2013 |
The continuation for Capt "Rocky" Jones and her crew is just as wonderful as the 1st. Excellent read!!!
"Wizard is the second book in the Gaean Trilogy.---Gaea is world and goddess, a dazzling pageant of wild mythology and chimerical creatures in a gargantuan, strange and beautiful world. Cirocco is now the Wizard of Gaea, powerful but troubled. And ready to lead the revolt against Gaea's mad, capricious tyranny.
Wizard goes dramatically further than humor or humanism. It's also very serious science fiction about a genetic manipulator with the power of a god and her sentient creations' struggle for self-determination. It's clever, complex and confusing, but never confused. And it's the highest point of this roller-coaster series" ( )
  Scoshie | May 6, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Varleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
FreffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hamilton, Todd CameronCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pfeiffer, Michael M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russo, TonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schichtel, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For K. L. King, Kenneth J. Alford, and John Philip Sousa
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For three million years Gaea turned in solitary splendor. (Prologue)
The Titanide galloped from the fog like a fugitive from a demented carousel.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441900674, Mass Market Paperback)

One of the greatest science fiction epics ever written, John Varley's Titan, Wizard, and Demon comprise a groundbreaking trilogy that will live forever. Human explorers have entered the sprawling mind of Gaea. Now they must fight her will. For she is much too powerful...and definitely insane. "These books are going to be around for a long time." --Locus

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:55 -0400)

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