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Whipping Star by Frank Herbert

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Submitted by Brad Wheeler 
(Aug 03, 2002)

If you think aliens in typical science fiction are a little too human, this one is for you. In the far future, interstellar transport is the responsibility of a singe group of individuals, an extremely nonhuman species called the Caleban. When the Calebans suddenly begin dying, anyone who has used their 'jumpdoors' begins to go insane and eventually dies. For this reason, the Bureau of Sabotage has sent two of its agents, McKie and Furuneo, to rescue the last survivor, who had unfortunately sold himself to a psycotic millionaire.

The plot is relatively unimportant and undistinguised, and the ending requires rereading several pages to fully comprehend it. The novel's main attraction is the Caleban intself, inexplicably named Fanny Mae. Its perception of the universe is such that the BuSab agents' attempts to communicate with it are exercises in frustration. However, it is quite enjoyable to tackle the Caleban's thought in one's own head, and I found myself thinking about it whenever I had a quiet moment.

Not a book to read casually or slowly, this novel, much like Dune, will horribly confuse if the reader is not paying attention. Well worth the time, if anyone can manage to locate a copy.

Submitted by Anonymous
(Feb 09, 2000)

Dune this, dune that! With all the hype over the past thiryt plus years over the magnum opus "Dune" one may forget the other works by Mr. Herbert. "Whipping Star" is the first novel length adventure starring Herbert's favorite creation of his, his Sabotour Extraordinary Jorj X. McKie!

This book is different from Dune. Namely it is short, but don't let that fool you. It pack a wallop! Also the book ends on a good note (a real departure for just about any Frank Herbert book)! Also, it is a love story. Both of the McKie stories are love stories. Oh, don't go running off in fear of Harlequin Herbert. This is a unique love story.

What happens? Baisically a rich socialitte with mental problems hires this mysterious being who allows sentient beings to "fold" space, a la guild from Dune, to be whipped. Her companion, a psychotic sentient suffering from an unusual paranoia about his person which makes him fear baisically anything that may have any amount of control over him. Well this comic duo are killing off these "Calabans".

Well it's Jorj X. McKie to the rescue! He is a top agent of a government agency whose sole purpose is to slow the wheels of government. Yep, Herbert shows with the McKie adventure a keen sense of comic irony if not a mastery of it! Well, McKie not only has to stop the bad guys, but he must figure out just what the hell this "Caleban" thing is anyway.

Why is it a love story? Well, the love expressed in this story is one of maternal love. With the array of alien species and Herbert's masterfully created characters with actual motivations (note to Sci-Fi writers of today) he creates a world of paranoia and subterfuge with little in the way of honor. The communication difficulties and the plot within plots all lead to an ethnic James Bond in space. The only true act of communication is that of love. A thing that McKie lacks for one reason or another and the the Calaban has in abundance!

It is a must read, not only for Dune fans but also for non-Dune fans who like Science fiction as well as people who hated Dune but who are willing to giver Herbert another chance. It is a truly unique world, just as unique as Dune and just as rich. It proves beyond a doubt that Herbert is a true story teller and one of the best social story tellers of his generation! In short, he makes Bradbury look like Dean Koontz!

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