Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Review: 'Ibis' by Linda Steele


Gor Fanboy Score 4/5 Stars 

‘Ibis’ (1985) is DAW book No. 644; the cover art is by J. Chiodo.

I wasn’t aware until I had purchased this book and started to read it, that it is an SF Romance novel….?! It’s certainly one of the earliest commercially published entries in that genre, which nowadays takes up an ever-increasing proportion of DAW’s releases. I can’t say I’m a mega-fan of the romance genre, but in the spirit of adventure, I decided to persevere and check out ‘Ibis’:

A Federation research vessel has crash-landed on the planet Ibis-2, and only a few hundred of the crew have survived. Ibis -2 is an earth-like planet with a native population quite similar in appearance  to Homo sapiens. However, the Ibisian society is constructed much like that of social wasps, bees, or ants. There is a Queen, who alone procreates; a number of lubricious younger females, who will replace the Queen should she falter in her duties; a large caste of sterile female workers and warriors; and a caste of male drones, who live in pampered idleness until such time as the Queen seeks their favors. After one shot at Knocking Boots, the ephemeral drones die - ! Needless to say, this depressing aspect of drone reproductive biology tends to leave the younger Ibisian woman rather….. fidgety….

The Ibisians aren’t too pleased with the arrival of the Federation ship and within the book’s first few pages they launch an attack that destroys the ship and kills a significant proportion of its lightly-armed survivors. The novel’s hero, Padrec Morrissey (who looks something like Pierce Brosnan) escapes the onslaught only to be captured by Anii, one of the queens-in-waiting and a woman with the physical appearance of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Things get rather bizarre as Padric quickly becomes the hot-to-trot Anii’s Pleasure Slave (!) and is interred in her quarters in the hive-like ‘nom’ wherein the Ibisians make their home. In rapid succession Anii becomes Queen of the nom, and Padrec her favorite 'Love Toy'.

Although there are brief passages of violence and action, much of the narrative centers on the drama between Padrec and his alien girlfriend. There is quite a bit of pouting and angst on the part of Padrec, which in my mind made him an unsympathetic character. But then again, this is a romance novel, and the arrival on Ibis-2 of a pirate spaceship filled with the well-armed, galactic equivalent of the population of Pelican Bay State Prison simply is not going to happen…..

The climax of the novel deals with an escape attempt by the other surviving humans imprisoned in the nom: will Padrec betray Anii and join his crewmates in their bid for freedom ? Or will he betray the escape plot and thus indirectly condemn his crewmates to death ? On a world where the Queen has the power of life and death, such a decision cannot come without consequences….

Since I’m not particularly familiar with romance novels, it would be unfair of me to give this book a traditional score per se. I have, however, given it a ‘Gor Fanboy Rating’. This rating reflects the book’s appeal to that dedicated subset of SF readers who cherish and treasure the Gor novels’ fascination with proud macho men made humble and ‘forced’ (cough-cough) to serve the sick, lust-filled desires of their gorgeous female masters.

While Ibis is rated PG-13, I think that Gor Fanboys will enjoy reading it….particularly the last few pages. Hence, its exemplary Gor Fanboy Rating of 4/5 Stars !

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