Running From the Deity: A Pip & Flinx Adventure
by Alan Dean Foster
Published by Del Rey
255 pages, 2005
Not Lost in Space
Reviewed by Lincoln Cho
It's too easy to try and write Alan Dean Foster off as a hack. Let's face it, even though the dude is not seriously old -- he was born in 1946, making him mature but not ancient -- he is the author of over 80 (that's right 80!) novels. Single-handedly, Foster has written a veritable catalog of contemporary science fiction, including a whole stack under the Star Trek franchise that, by their nature, come as close to hackishness as an author dare skate.
By all accounts, Foster travels widely and lives in a very cool house in Arizona. When you read about him, you realize that it doesn't sound as though he's off somewhere crying in his beer. Life, for Foster, is very good indeed. However, if he were hoping that one of his efforts would lift him away from potential hackishnes, he could have done worse than creating his own little franchise, the vastly entertaining Pip and Flinx adventures.
Running from the Deity is actually the 11th installment in a world Foster created almost 30 years ago. For those who haven't invested any of the last three decades boning up on the adventures of Pip and Flinx, a bit of background is in order. Flinx is Philip Lynx, a 24-year-old (yes, still) eugenically enhanced human with considerable empathic abilities. Pip is his companion, a faithful Alaspinian minidrag: a miniature dragon to those of us still mired in the 21st century. Another piece of the partnership is Teacher, Lynx's extraordinary sentient spacecraft.
Depending on where you stand, in the Pip and Flinx adventures, Foster either satirizes the Star Trek universe or salutes it -- you really have to read for yourself to decide. In either case, there are enough commonalties to see correlations. For instance, the system of galaxies Pip and Flinx travel in are called the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has a strict directive that disallows its members from interfering in the development of less evolved life forms, especially through the use of advanced technology. (Sound familiar?) However, Foster's creation is anything but derivative and the worlds he shares with us here are complete and distinct.
In Running From the Deity, Pip, Flinx and Teacher are searching for the weapon they need to defeat a powerful enemy when they encounter a race of empaths outside of Commonwealth jurisdiction. At home for, perhaps, the first time in his life, Flinx thinks about what it would feel like to put down roots on the lovely planet Arrawd:
He could not keep himself from thinking about the possible ramifications. Could he possibly live here? It was the only world he had found where he could dwell among other sentients free of the intermittent cerebral assaults that threatened not just to inconvenience, but to kill him.... The climate was accommodating, the local food tolerable if bland, the natives he had met thus far sociable and welcoming....
Of course, the nature of the lives of Pip and Flinx being what they are, a prolonged stay will be impossible. As fans will know, Flinx has worlds to save and some quite serious business to attend to. Flinx's ultimate mission is not completed with this book. However, the Arrawdian interlude is a memorable one. With a full menu of adventure, action and alien interaction, Running From the Deity was, for me, the most pleasurable of the Pip and Flinx books thus far. | November 2005
Lincoln Cho is a freelance writer and contributing editor to Blue Coupe magazine.