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Used price: $1.95
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Why? Well, at the top of the list I'd put the use of language. Farnsworth has a large vocabulary and is sure to use it whenever possible. Sample snippet: "Dmitri tipped a little of the rich, black, glutinous caviar onto his bread. The eggs were smooth and oily on his tongue, and as he chewed, they popped and tingled almost erotically." For a moment I was afraid he might get amourous with the caviar jar. Or: "At Princeton he weighed the parallels between an old car engine and the universe. Some bolts were tiny and remote as dwarf stars. Piston rings were black holes. God was the universal voltage regulator." Hey, what'd Princeton ever do to Farnsworth, anyway? I'm serious. I couldn't make this stuff up.
On the positive side, Farnsworth seems to have consulted some pronunciation and linguistic references; on the downside, he overdid the shallow and bungled when it got at all deep. He has an adult male Israeli addressing another as though the latter were female (a grammatical distinction in Hebrew that stands out like a neon sign). The shelf in the apartment can't just be a simple shelf; no, it's an 'étagère'. And on, and on, until we say 'oy, vay, sacre bleu'.
The story had potential and even held some periodic excitement, though the suspension of disbelief was generally hanged by the neck, so to speak, in most parts. Let's put it this way: any book whose demonization of the CIA strikes me as unbelievably harsh must truly have strained credibility. In another area, one of the technologies (cold fusion; no, *really*) in the book would have applications extending far, far past the uses portrayed, yet not until deep into the book does this even occur to anyone. One just cannot picture real people in the real world behaving as do the characters in the book.
Hard to say to whom _Shadow Wars_ might appeal. There's something here to turn off just about everyone. I recommend you let it pass you over.
In particular, I liked the matrix of relationships between the character communities. On the one hand, each person has a political affiliation: Russian, Israeli, Palestinian, American, ... And on the other hand, each person has a professional affiliation: Science, Intelligence, Executive Government, Journalism, ... Who should trust whom? The combination of possibilities is complex and fascinating - particularly since even those that share the same politics and profession are usually in competition with each other. The author has a great knack for showing the genuinely difficult context that each group must operate within, and how easy it is for members of each group to justify just about anything in the name of their greater good - which in most cases, coincidently, seems to support their personal ambitions as well.
Used price: $44.55
Collectible price: $27.95