Alternate Madness

This is the book in which I finally found my stride.

Gone are those little side trips that I'd found so satisfying to write in my first two books but which do impede the flow of the narrative once in a while. Bibblings starts at the beginning, takes a bead on the ending, and heads straight there. The minor episodes in this story support the main plot -- everything is connected directly, not just peripherally.

Here's the story. An energy-providing ore, much needed by a federation of populated worlds, is present in abundance on a distant planet called Lodon-Kamaria. But no attempt has ever been made to mine and export the ore, because the Lodonites and the Kamarians are in a perpetual state of war. They can't even agree on the name of their planet.

Federation Headquarters sends in a diplomatic team to see what can be done. They touch down first in Lodon...and are shocked to find that the entire nation is mad. The army is a shambles, the leaders are as insane as those they try to lead, and the place is dangerous. The Lodonites have little or no awareness of what they're doing.

The diplomatic team retreats to Kamaria...where they find a sane, civilized nation with a disciplined army under the command of a capable general. So why haven't the orderly Kamarians been able to defeat the madmen they are fighting?

The answer comes soon enough, when the Kamarians gradually begin to go mad themselves. The Lodonites, however, have recovered their sanity and are beginning to rebuild their world. It's up to the diplomatic team to find the cause of this seasonal madness...even when they learn they are susceptible to it themselves.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? As a matter of fact, there's more humor in this book than in my first two put together. It's a combination I like: the gravity of the subject matter underscored by the occasional humorous counterpoint. The narrator of the story is the leader of the diplomatic team (my first time using the first-person point of view). She has a good sense of the absurd and frequently sees the comic aspects of a situation that others might miss.

The only review of Bibblings I have seen appeared in The Milwaukee Journal. The review is all plot summary except for one sentence fragment right at the end, and here it is: "An original and timely yarn."


N.Y.: New American Library, 1979, ISBN 0-451-08937-5

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Page created June 28, 1995; last updated October 23, 2000.