Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Lawyers of Mars, by Pam Uphoff

First, I must offer my profound apology for going so long between book reviews. This was totally a function of life as we know it, a buzzing, incessant turbulence of irritations and stimuli, separated only by the blessed surcease of sleep.
There, I've used my quota of purple prose, now I can get to work.
I've been squeezing in reads of The Lawyers of Mars in between other things, and that's not entirely a bad thing. This is one of the books that I have had mutually contradictory thoughts about. On the one hand, I wanted to read read read fast so I can find out how the plot resolves. On the other hand, it is SO well written that I wanted it to go on forever. So, I indulged Hand Two for several days, and today I finally indulged Hand One. And the Gripping Hand is this is a funny, engaging book that keeps you on your toes throughout.
Xaero is the hero. She's a lizard, and a lawyer. You are hooked already, aren't you? You never expected lizard, lawyer, and hero all to be used in the same sentence, and yet, there you go! She's a she, but it's complicated, and I absolutely refuse to diagram out why that is true, because it will ruin the fun for you.
Her law firm doesn't do criminal law, but they have taken on one case, and stuck her with it. Her client is a nasty piece of work, and just as soon as she gets him off, she gets stuck with an even nastier client. And from there, we move into the intrigue of the first novella...
Office politics. Gender politics. Even political politics; not to mention raquetball playing plants and attempts to blow up the ecosystem. Xaero can handle them all, and she always has a knife, which is VERY important to her future.
Here's one of the greatest aspect of Pam's writing: she doesn't tell, she shows; and she doesn't show it all at once, either. There is a LOT to be shown, from the physical descriptions of the Martians, to the ecosystem, even the measures of time and distance. I found myself being swept up by the story, with a little question in my mind about (whatever) and then she does a reveal in a page or so, and the story doesn't suffer at all! In fact, She gives you enough of the differences, and there are enough similarities, that you can read the story without any sense of discontinuity at all.
Another thing: the book is about Lawyers. Says so right in the title. I'm not a lawyer, don't play one on TV, and I didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn last night, BUT I did expect to have to use my secret weapon. My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock GA, is a legal parapro, and I was fully prepared to have to ask her to translate some lawyer-speak for me. DID NOT HAVE TO DO THAT! Although some of the scenes take place in court, and there are legal proceedings, it was never so advanced that I lost track of the story. I think people in the legal profession will be amused at some of the banter, but it was amusing to me as well.
Now, I have recently been admonished for including a spoiler (it was a mistake, honest) so I'm not going to divulge much more. I will say that the book consists of three novellas: The Lawyers of Mars; Martian Times; Martians in Space (aka M-A-ARTIAANS IN SP_A_A_ACE!!!) and you may draw your own conclusions from the titles. Each novella could be a stand-alone, but the characters carry over, and they really are too god a mix to split up.
And I will leave you with this final bit of wisdom: How do you hug a Martian? VERY carefully, no kidding, I mean it. Do it VERY CAREFULLY!

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