Timothy Zahn’s Night Train to Rigel and Shameless Self Promotion (but not really)

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Inkspots, Not To Be Missed Books, Scribe Scribbles
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This is the part of reviewing books that I absolutely love; introducing authors  that write extremely.  I discovered Timothy Zahn on my own, during a despondent wander through the science-fiction section of the local library. I picked up his book  The Icarus Hunt and glared at the flashy cover with its odd-looking space ship and raised letters in gold. “Timothy Zahn, New York Times Best Selling Author” was written in white under a blurb about another of his works on the front cover. I nearly put it back on the shelf, I’d been so disgusted with other books that had been on the NYT’s best sellers list.

I flipped the book over, and read the back cover. Jordan McKell and his troubles didn’t seem like your normal space novel. In fact, it reminded me vaguely of The Maltese Falcon.  I moved over to one of the over stuffed blue chairs  on the opitsite side of the library’s sci-fi shelves, and began to read. An hour later, I came back to myself with a start. The library was closing. Red cheeked, I grabbed my purse and fled before the librarian turning off the lights to the check out desk.  I remember how  my heart leaped in my chest as carried the book to the car, smelling the slightly sweet paper pages and marveling at how immersed I’d been in so short a time.  I stayed up past one in the morning, reading. I couldn’t stop. It was better than the best movie.  I saw Jordan McKell, and I liked him, despite his desperately trying to make sure that I didn’t.

I immediately took to Pix and Pax an Ixel, too. I was rooting for them, even when they turned out to be drug runners for a mafia like character. I still liked them. And then my imagination kicked over in excitement. What Jordan said he was, and how he acted, didn’t make sense. Something was up. I began anticipating  where the plot was going. Sometimes I guessed right, and sometimes I guessed wrong. Mainly I guessed right. That was because of the skillful clue planting Zahn did. I began to enjoy the writer/reader partnership consciously. I was playing a game, an exhilarating game, with someone who was a master of their craft.   He dropped phases like “The sky to sunward was gaudy”* into the book as well, making sci-fi  poetic and I’d never seen anyone do that before.

The Icarus Hunt   was the first book of Timothy Zahn’s that I read, but it certainly wasn’t the last.  I picked up  Night Train to Rigel the day it released at my local Barnes & Noble  and like The Icarus Hunt, I read it in a handful or hours. It was the kind of read I wanted to slow down, to make it last longer, and at the same time, was so amazing, I couldn’t pause, not for one moment.

My review of “Night Train to Rigel” is up on thechristianmanifesto  so go and buy your copy or reserve it at the library first. Then go read what I have to say about it, and get ready for one rip-roaring thrill ride that will keep you up later than you planned and pull you so deep into another universe, you might get locked in at the library.

*Chapter 2, page 22 in The Icarus Hunt.

And while you’re at it, you’ll want to pick up this one too.

What books caught your imagination and drew you in so deeply  you were up till three in the morning, or spent the night in the library? Let me know in the comments, I’m always on the prowl for another fantastic read!

  1. I first discovered Zahn by reading some of his Star Wars stuff. Interesting thing is, I once tried a SW book by someone else and didn’t like it. Haven’t read any SW books since then except by him. Anyway, I was browsing the last aisle of the library that was T on down. (Fiction is categorized by author name) I was looking for Kathy Tyers. Because I couldn’t find anything else, I read his SW books and loved Thrawn. Then I promptly forgot about him. Many months later, I again browsed the last letters of the alphabet. (It seems more scifi is at the first and last) I found a weird looking book and almost set it back because the cover seemed tacky, but it was weird enough for me to read the inside and take it home, then devour the next three books and await impatiently for months to inhale the fifth. That was Night Train to Rigel. Since NTtR I’ve read The Icarus Hunt at your recommendation (loved Ixel) and a few more SW books by him, and The Green and the Grey (excellent book). It isn’t often that I rediscover authors and enjoy them. 🙂

    • I’m pretty certain that Frank Comption and Jordan McKell are cousins 😉

      You’d really like his Dragonback series too, Nathanael. The K’da are so cool! And it takes place over the span of six months. Each book in the series is the equivalent in book time, to a month.

  2. Gee says:

    In regard to Christian writers, besides C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, I very much enjoy Flannery O’Connor, who wrote short stories, except for her two relatively short novels, “Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away,” and Walker Percy, who has written both non-fiction, such as “Lost in the Cosmos: The World’s Last Self-Help Book,” “The Message in the Bottle,” and “Signposts in a Strange Land,” and fiction, including the National Book Award-winning novel “The Moviegoer” and other novels, such as “The Last Gentleman,” “Love in the Ruins,” “Lancelot,” and “The Second Coming.” Both are critically acclaimed Southern Catholic writers.

    • I really loved “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Conner, but the story was so sharp, it hurt. I’ll have to look up Walker Percy. Speaking of Catholic writers, I just finished Brideshead Revisited. It’s as good as I remember, and then some.

  3. Kathy Black says:

    I think you meant he writes extremely well in your first sentence. You left out the well but you hooked me. I guess I will just have to read the books and plan to stay up all night.

Be brilliant, be peculiar, be peculiarly brilliant.

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