Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Review: Yonder Comes the Other End of Time, by Suzette Haden Elgin

A sequel to the Ozark trilogy, in which the author introduces the main character from her other sci-fi series to Planet Ozark.

Yonder Comes the Other End of Time

Daw Books, 1986, 302 pages


The Communipaths have traced a mind message of incredible strength to a seemingly empty sector of space, and now Tri-Galactic Federation agent Coyote Jones must find an invisible planet and bring back the unknown telepath who threatens to disrupt the entire Communipath system.

Bursting through a Spell of Invisibility and straight into Brightwater Kingdom on the planet Ozark, Coyote discovers a realm ruled by a iron-willed young woman named Responsible — perhaps the very telepath he seeks. But on this world where Magicians of Rank can call up a storm or cure a wounded and unwelcome offworlder with equal ease, will Coyote's psience or Ozark's spells prove the stronger?

Yonder Comes the Other End of Time combines two of Suzette Haden Elgin's lesser-known series: the The Ozark Trilogy, set on the Planet Ozark, and the Communipath Worlds, a group of novels set in the Tri-Galactic Federation, starring Coyote Jones, heroic if occasionally bumbling agent of the Tri-Galactic Intelligence Service.

This book was the last one written in either series, and in it, Coyote Jones comes to Ozark and meets Responsible of Brightwater.

This might sound kind of awesome if you are a fan of both series (and I have read and enjoyed all of them). But honestly, my fondness for this book was mostly nostalgic, along with the knowledge that Elgin will not be writing any more novels, given her sad health situation. As a novel, it does answer a number of questions left hanging at the end of the Ozark Trilogy, such as the role of Responsible and why she's so powerful, the true nature of the Garnet Ring and the Out-Cabal, and how a bunch of hill folk managed to transport themselves to another planet early in the 21st century.

That said, there are some pretty silly plot devices, there are digressions that don't really go anywhere, and the character of Coyote Jones was rendered far more unlikable than he was in the other novels starring him.

Coyote is a tremendously powerful projecting telepath, but he's also "mind-blind," meaning telepathic powers, for the most part, do not affect him. He's an affable, arrogant, red-headed futuristic Viking folklorist, and the Communipath Worlds books show him being generally compassionate and usually smart, while a bit too prone to blunder into situations because he's immune to mental powers and because he represents the almighty Tri-Galactic Intelligence Service. Elgin also writes him as a bit of a satire of the lady-pleasing Secret Agent Man archetype. He does get laid an awful lot, yet without having a single genuinely macho bone in his body.

He does not get laid in this book. Mostly, he mopes, whines, complains, carries on, and acts like a great big foolish baby. At every turn, upon meeting Ozarkers, he makes an ass of himself. I've written before that Suzette Haden Elgin has some rather odd ideas about gender relationships, and I really got the impression that Coyote Jones was meant to be a cartoonish representation of how men behave. He exists to be scolded and put in his place, and also to draw a stark moral distinction between the big bad rest of the world (or in this case, three galaxies), and the hard-working, mind-your-own-business Ozarkers who have lived a thousand years on a planet with barely any crime or violence.

(If I were ever to write a serious critical dissection of Elgin's Ozarkers, I'd point out a few things about a culture that consigns a girl from the moment of birth to be shunned and banished unloved, that practices almost Sharia-like sexual double-standards, and where Ozark's first murder in 700 years ends in the acquittal of a father who kills his daughter for being, basically, a rebellious teenager. All of this is presented in the book with very little judgment, while the sins and horrors of Old Earth that drove the Ozarkers away are detailed by way of explaining why they want nothing to do with the Federation now.)

That said, the book is still fun, especially with Coyote Jones and his super-advanced technology and awesome "psience" butting heads against Ozarkers and their stubborn independence and "magic." Because Coyote Jones and Ozarkers both have really hard heads.

In many ways it reads like a science fiction fairy tale. And if the chapter starring Troublesome served no purpose other than for Troublesome to appear again, well, yay, Troublesome!

Verdict: This is not a book you'd want to read as a stand-alone. If you have not read the Ozark Trilogy first, and preferably a couple of the Coyote Jones books as well, then Yonder Comes the Other End of Time is going to seem awfully silly and nonsensical. If you have read those books, then this book is still a little silly, but you'll enjoy it more.

Also by Suzette Haden Elgin: My review of The Ozark Trilogy.

My complete list of book reviews.
Tags: books, fantasy, reviews, science fiction, suzette haden elgin

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened