Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Polar City Nightmare

by Katherine Kerr and Kate Daniel


This is the second in the Polar City series, set on planet Hagar under the malevolent glow of a red giant. No-one can go out during the day without the protection of a suncloak, so the population lives nocturnally. This book can be read on its own as it does not form part of a continuing saga.

The story begins with a game of baseball which has gripped the entire city. The police chief, Bates, is watching the Bears when he is alerted to the disappearance of an alien along with an important piece of alien tapestry.

One of the members of the Bears has been blackmailed into smuggling the tapestry off the planet. He agrees to this because he does not want to jeopardize his team`s chances of winning the series. Pretty soon bodies start turning up, and the team members are involved in trying to keep the tapestry out of the wrong hands whilst staying alive and playing baseball. The situation escalates until war threatens, and it becomes clear that far more is at stake than that year`s cup.

So far, so good? In fact it's a lot more complicated than that. The writers have tried to combine a whodunnit with science fiction, political intrigue and a sports underdog story, and it doesn`t always work. Planet Hagar houses several alien groups, and more than once I found myself having to go back to work out which were which. There are simply too many strands to this story, and they don't all fit well together.

Even in the far future baseball is played just as it is today, and is very important to everyone whether alien or human. This was not the only unlikely detail.

There is no clear central character, and although this can sometimes work in this case I didn`t find myself sympathising with any of them. There is little chance to get to know them before the next disaster strikes and the plot moves on.

Then there is the ridiculous dialogue. Most of the characters speak a bastardised form of English called Meerkan ( American ) which involves phrases such as "I dint want" and "no can forget" all the time. It's irritating, and there is no excuse for it.

There is the occasional splash of humour, and the pace never slows. But just as there is no depth to the characters there is no deeper meaning here. It's all quite light, run-of-the-mill stuff, nothing to tax the grey stuff with. A lot of issues are touched on, but none are dealt with in any detail.

Oh, and it's not scary. Don't bother having Polar City Nightmares.

Book Details

Year: 2000

Categories: Books

  Science fiction

If you like this, try:

Time Future cover    

Time Future by Maxine McArthur
In a space station in the far future, Commander Halley is lives at a time when humans are no longer the dominant species.

Cosmonaut Keep cover    

Cosmonaut Keep by Ken Macleod
Mankind goes to the stars, but Ken Macleod has created a crowded universe in Book One of the Engines of Light series.

2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson