Following on from the tremendous success of his debut sci-fi novel Terra, Mitch Benn returns to his heroine with another winning, witty and whipsmart tale to take us back to the planet Fnrr.
Since Terra returned to Earth and introduced humanity to the fact that there were, in fact, aliens out there, sci-fi fan Billy Dolphin has been dejected. His precious genre, which allowed him to escape the often-depressing realities of his everyday life, has been made redundant.
However, after a narrow escape from an insectoid assassin who’s after the incognito celebrity, Billy is swept up in Terra’s journey back to the planet where she grew up.
Faced with the reality of spaceships, intergalactic rogues and advanced intelligences, Billy is thrilled. He’s less thrilled when they arrive on Fnrr and realise that the society has fallen under the spell of someone claiming to be the reincarnation of a prophet who’s not exactly thrilled to see the arrival of two humans.
Benn’s warm but sharp narrative voice, which made Terra such fun to read, rings through loud and clear in this sequel, as does the continuing (and welcome) influence of writers like Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams, and a real love of the sci-fi genre in general. The addition of the occasionally-panicking but thoroughly decent Billy Dolphin allows him to reintroduce (or introduce) the reader to the story of this incredible, saintly who was raised among aliens and taught them to see the good in each other, and gives the story some much needed perspective.
Much like the first novel, Terra’s World is a very accessible story that uses the hugely advanced but essentially naïve society of Fnrr for some strong social commentary. Believing what they’re told, the people of Fnrr blindly follow the charlatan prophet because they can’t see a reason for him to lie. Meanwhile, Terra’s otherwise intelligent and big-hearted Fnrrn friends are far too comfortable stereotyping their warlike G’grk neighbours.
Terra’s World is funny and sly, but it’s also heartfelt and wears its love of the genre (and influences) on its sleeve. Simply put, it’s great fun.