Jody Lynn Nye,
Medicine Show
(Ace, 1994)

Shona and Gershom Taylor and their family always seem to be just one step ahead. Of the bank that owns the mortgage on their ship, of the Child Welfare Bureau that seems to be going out of its way to prevent them from adopting their foster daughter Lani, and of the bounty hunters and assassins trying to collect the price on Shona's head. They thought they'd lost the latter while the Sibyl was in dock being refitted, but no sooner did they leave dock than they were attacked. But, as always, they managed to escape.

Humanity has thus far made contact with only one other sentient species, the ottles of Poxt. For the past seven years, Shona has had an ottle companion. But now Chirwl has decided that it's time to return to his home planet and settle down. When they reach Poxt, however, they find an aging plague has affected the human settlement there. Even worse, whatever is causing the plague seems able to affect the ottles as well. Now Shona must race to save the inhabitants of Poxt while the bounty hunters get ever closer.

Medicine Show is the engaging sequel to Nye's Taylor's Ark, but it is not necessary to have read the first book to thoroughly enjoy the second. The plot moves along at quite a sprightly pace, keeping the reader engaged, while the viewpoint switches from character to character, catching all the major players and most of the secondary ones. Nye also adds a dollop of humor -- watch for the pointed jabs at certain views of sci-fi aliens, for instance.

Medicine Show is entertaining, fast-paced and sure to please. Give it a try.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 2 November 2002

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