Wen Spencer alien wolf series

Oh, so excellent! I just devoured Alien Taste and the book after it. Cracktastic, satisfying…The characters and the goofy plot twists completely sucked me in. I’ve been yelping and hooting with pleasure at it… The way Ukiah keeps going “Whew, good thing people just figure if there’s anything strange about me, it’s because I’ve been raised by wolves!” is hilarious. I’m a sucker for when people play with corniness & make it intelligent.

At the beginning – the very first chapter – I thought of the first chapter of Remains – very similar in setup so that you think you’re reading a certain kind of airport novel plot line and you could read it in your sleep – so that if you’re me, you feel faintly ill and want to throw the book across the room – and then it’s NOT THAT story. Like being in an airplane that Spencer pulls out of a tailspin. In theory, someone will start the story and settle comfortably into that airport novel… and then get taken for a ride.

The plot is set up to deal with issues of race, mixed race/hybridity, native american history, memory, in some really excellent ways. Perhaps one could nominate it for a C.B. Award. Totally fascinating. There were interesting gender elements for me as well, not central to the book but… genre conventions twisted so that things that usually confront a female character were now something the male protagonist, Ukiah, had to deal with. Reproduction is key… But even aside from that it’s pleasant to read a male character who wonders, “Oh… was that sexist of me to think?” He questions himself. (For good reason, because of patchy memory.) Very Vorkosigan-like. In fact these two books are uncannily Bujoldian in their approach to the story.

You have to be able to swallow the premise… the weak bit is how the other characters react to finding stuff out. They don’t so much lose SAN points as do a barely perceptible double take: “Meep! Gross! Weird! Unbelievable! But… well, carry on then, right-ho!” Come to think of it… that’s how I would react in that kind of situation, because I’ve read a lot of science fiction… and besides, probably a lot of it would make perfect sense considering he was raised by wolves.

– Hippie Astrophysicist Farmgirl Unitarian Lesbian Moms – check
– Studly vampirey innocent hero with heart of gold and strange powers (Oh! But of course! After all, he was raised by wolves! That explains it!)
– Leather-jacket-wearing, feral, slinky, biker gangs
– FBI agent chick tough as nails, calm, competent, and fierce, with sexuality intact
– Older private investigator guy whose wife is dead, father figure (hahahahaa!! oh the cliche!)
– Hideous, cold, slithering evil (complicated later in book 2)

The protagonist *likes* people… wants to think the best of them… in his own mind, automatically gives them agency, considers them as independent people… Unlike many other rather dull unlikeable heroes. It’s his superpower. & gives the reader the key of how the story is meant to be constructed… the moral of the story comes through very clearly.

I enjoyed the fast pace & as I mentioned… the twists…

It would make such a fine tv series! Not a good movie – it’s too complicated & the interplay between characters would be lost. Really, there is not a lot of reason for movies to exist in the form they do now. It’s like expecting us to read only short stories – a freak of chance and time that the form took over as it did.

I felt too that I appreciated these books more because of having read a lot of comic books in the past year or so — maybe they have given me a particular take on story structure & what heroism means…

3 Responses to “Wen Spencer alien wolf series”

  1. Iris

    Yes .. everything you said .. but I love them because I read millions of detective stories combined with a Buffy and Angel watching legacy. And never read comics at all. They would make a brilliant series .. though maybe some of the extreme violence would have to be ‘implied’.

  2. laura quilter

    can you talk more about what you mean by “approach to story” and the similarities b/w Spencer & Bujold?

  3. badgerbag

    Yow. It’s hard to talk about without a million spoilers.
    I’m at the end of book 3 now – characters directly reference Buffy, very interesting!!! – And the conv. between Ukiah and Core about why he kills was great, a commentary on why in stories we need soulless villains to villify & kill. So Core wars against the “demons” but for all the wrong reasons – the way that playing video games and blasting away bad guys can be kind of unhealthy – That conversation mixed with Socket talking about how the cult is “like Buffy and the Scoobies” could use some real analysis. What very interesting books. Laura, you read Timmi’s essays on Bujold, right? Spencer’s books invite the same level of critical analysis. But I’m not doing that now… instead I am charging forward to read more.
    The Heaven’s Gate bits creep me out… I used to be friends with a girl who had just left that cult a couple of months before they all died and she told me all about it from a very personal level.

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