Short works

Books : reviews

Brenda W. Clough.
How Like a God.
Tor. 1997

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 10 January 2007

Rob Lewis is an ordinary guy, a computer programmer, wife, twin babies. The family is struggling to juggle two careers and makes ends meet. Then Rob suddenly gets a super-power: he can read people's minds, and influence their behaviour. He starts to experiment a little, but when a thoughtless command ends in tragedy, he realises the seriousness of the power. And when he can't control the power, and influences his children inadvertently, he has to run away to protect the family he loves, and ends up homeless in New York. A chance encounter gives him new hope, and a way to learn control, and he eventually tracks down the source of his power in an Asian desert.

This is very low key, but gives a real feeling for how sudden super-power might affect a very ordinary, decent person, and the moral dilemmas to could lead to. The training to control the powers by playing blackjack, and the crooked casino owner's reactions to the winning streaks, are interesting. And the revelation of the source of the powers is also handled very nicely.

Brenda W. Clough.
Doors of Death and Life.
Tor. 2000

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 20 January 2007

Warning!!! spoilers for How Like a God.

Seven years on from the events in How Like a God, and Rob Lewis is reunited with his family, but still hiding the super-powers he got from Gilgamesh. His friend Ed Barbarossa is hiding the immortality Rob gave him to save his life. But Ed has fulfilled his astronaut dream, and is returning from having lived on the moon for a year, when a fire kills his companions yet leaves him mysteriously alive. Can the pair keep their powers secret, yet save Ed from a murder conviction?

More good discussions about the morality of power, and the problems both of revealing it, and of keeping it secret. Not sure I appreciate the heavier religious tone in this sequel, however.