Hellspark

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Overview

Murder, Mystery, and Interstellar Intrigue!
Hugo Award winner Janet Kagan's Hellspark is now back in print!
Lassti, a newly discovered planet, is the center of political intrigue. Recently, Oloitokitok, the planet survey team's physicist was found dead. Was he killed? If so, by who? One of his fellow surveyors? Or by one of the Sprookjes, the birdlike natives of Lassti? Are the Sprookjes intelligent? If so, then parties that want the planet ...
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Overview

Murder, Mystery, and Interstellar Intrigue!
Hugo Award winner Janet Kagan's Hellspark is now back in print!
Lassti, a newly discovered planet, is the center of political intrigue. Recently, Oloitokitok, the planet survey team's physicist was found dead. Was he killed? If so, by who? One of his fellow surveyors? Or by one of the Sprookjes, the birdlike natives of Lassti? Are the Sprookjes intelligent? If so, then parties that want the planet for development will lose it. Why is the survey team having so much trouble finding out? Into this situation arrives Tocohl, a Hellspark trader who just wanted to have a vacation on Sheveschke at the St. Veschke festival. After being attacked, rescuing a young woman, and going before a judge, Tocohl has learned all she ever wanted to know about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she is on her way to find Lasti to find answers to the mysteries there.
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What People Are Saying

A C. Crispin
Janet Kagan writes terrrific science fiction. Imaginative and insightful with characters you really care about.
David G. Hartwell
Janet Kagan is a seductive and engaging storyteller and a first-class SF writer. This book is her masterpiece to date, one of the best SF adventures of the 1980s.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812542752
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/1/1988
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 3.80 (w) x 8.45 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2000

    Superb Sci-Fi

    This is one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read, and the only book I can remember finishing and immediately turning to the first page to read it again. Perhaps it simply pushed all of my personal buttons, but I would recommend it to anyone wanting a good sci-fi read (without the overly hard edges too many authors indulge in). Ms Kagan spins a wonderful story, an engrossing mystery peopled with a wide range of entirely believable characters, many of whom are other than what we would call human. Her definition is something else again, and something you'll think about if you try the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2011

    Worth Re-reading Again and Again Through the Years!

    Really original speculative fiction stories take a little longer to get into because the universe you find yourself doesn't have cliches to orient you quickly. This story is totally worth sticking it out until you get your bearings!

    The one cliche it does have is the idea that before humans open a new planet for development they ought to send in a team to make sure there isn't an intelligent species already there. What happens if the team finds a race some members are sure must be intelligent but that is so different they can't prove it through the 3 requirements of language, artifacts, and art? Call in a specialist!

    Polyglots are individuals with a special gift for learning many languages. Hellsparks are a whole race of polyglots who take it to a whole new level by adding in cultural clues like body language, postures, and gestures- all the nonverbal communication that goes with a language. The Hellspark they get is something special even for a Hellspark.

    This book has a great plot with lots of twists and turns, but it is more character driven with even the most minor characters fully developed. Lots of humor, lots of thought provoking concepts that make you explore your own inner world while you are exploring hers.

    My only regret is that Ms Kagan developed such a rich detailed universe, but never took us back to it with more books. I've seen 10 or 12 book series that weren't as well developed as this one book universe.

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    Extraordinary linguistics-based science fiction mystery

    Janet Kagan's death in 2008 ended a brilliant but tragically short career. She wrote only three novels, Uhura's Song, Mirabile, and Hellspark. Although published almost a decade and a half ago, Hellspark remains as rich in fresh ideas and wonderful characters as when the ink was still wet on the pages. The story begins as a murder mystery, a pilot versed in languages enlisted to help solve the death of a member of a multi-cultural survey mission. As an outsider, Tocohl Susumo brings a new perspective to the community and the planet it is investigating, a wonderfully inventive world in which plants use lightning-generated electricity for energy. She also understands that language is more than words, it's culture, gestures, and proxemics as well. The pivotal question faced by the expedition is whether the native species, bird-like bipeds who echo human speech with uncanny accuracy, are sentient. Kagan's depiction of how different cultures view the same behavior through the filtering lenses of their own biases is fresh, startling, and ultimately satisfying. Highly recommended.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    One of my all time favorites

    Unpredictable and unexpected without weak characters. I love the fact that the author uses strong female characters without making them ugly or witchy and strong male characters without making them muscle bound clods. I wish there were more books in the same story line, or even a movie--although I seldom enjoy the movie as much as the book that inspired it.

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