WHAT IS IT about reading a mediocre novel that that gives me the illusion there's objective I can point to that makes the difference? Robert J. Sawyer's Foreigner (Ace, 304 pages, $4.99 paper) is is case in point: a sci-fi/fantasy novel, the problem isn't that the hook isn't great, like the work of Judith Mcrril or Kim Stanley Robinson; it isn't even very good.
And it isn't the fact that Foreigner, the last in a trilogy, is about talking dinosaurs that put, me off (similarities to Barney notwithstanding). Nor is it the ponder of the names: Sal-Afsan, a saurian Copernicus, or Dy -Dybo, the emperor of these Jurassic dweebs.
Sawyer does have the requisite flair for sociology required of the enre: Quintaglio dinosaur,-, are even psychoanalysed, and so we Lim that their inherent territoriality and viciousness (a blood-lust called "dagamant") is caused by the culling of the egglings early ill life. And a gigantic tower, made of a living blue material, that advises the dinos to Live their home planet before it self-destructs is a nice touch.
But in the end Foreigner fails in the way that run-of-the-mill sci-fi invariably fails: the new world is both insufficiently different (kilopaces, dewlap, as secondary sex characteristics) and way too strange (clunky names, a fully developed dinosaur civilization