Out of Phaze picks up 20 years after Juxtaposition, with the fantasy and scifi frames totally separated. The new main characters are Stile and Blue's...moreOut of Phaze picks up 20 years after Juxtaposition, with the fantasy and scifi frames totally separated. The new main characters are Stile and Blue's sons (respectively) and their predictably subservient and socially-inferior love interests. Early in the book, they swap consciousnesses, leading to hilarious(?) fish-out-of-water sequences and encountering each other's platonic female friends, who they immediately fall for. Also, somehow the evil Adepts and Citizens immediately know about the switch and set out to capture them, even though it's entirely a psychic phenomenon and the boys have trouble convincing people they're standing in front of that it has happened.
It's not a bad book, exactly - it's just kind of flat. Neither boy is particularly engaging, the love--interests are only appealing in the depths of kink they hint at (one's a unicorn, and one's an amoeba - and yes, later books totally go there) and the sexism isn't any better - in fact, at one point it's explicitly stated that Bane is only interested in a female who will totally sacrifice herself for him. And Mach's love interest tries to, which convinces him to stick around. (Also, all female androids are amoral man-eating sex fiends. Just so you know.)
The only bit that was rather striking was that Blue, who was a character only in reminiscence in the original trilogy because he wasn't tough enough to save the world, is the flexible, dynamic, successful one, and Stile, he of the unshakeable honor, is a conservative old stick-in-the-mud who basically sabotages himself. It's actually a fairly plausible extension of the original character development.(less)
Robot Adept lacks what little charm Out of Phaze has, but it's not nearly as offensive as Unicorn Point. It continues to bank on the stranger-in-parad...moreRobot Adept lacks what little charm Out of Phaze has, but it's not nearly as offensive as Unicorn Point. It continues to bank on the stranger-in-paradise concept by this time having the love interests switch - which gives us rather more access to their characters, and they do develop into relatively sympathetic people. Moreso than their partners, certainly. There's only one attempted rape, and it's foiled in a rather satisfying way (raping an amoeba Does Not Work when she can easily reform her abdomen into a fully functional vise.) The book ends with yet another plot-determining set of contests - this mechanism is a little creaky at this point, but it's entertaining enough to read. (Although... another table tennis match? They could use all the games in the universe, but you had to use this one again? Weren't up for any reseach, were you, buddy?)
Definitely the point at which the series begins to decline, but not all that objectionable in itself.(less)
1. The kids are wildly implausible and a little bit irritating. When they're introduced, they're four years old, yet capable...moreOh, dear. Where to start?
1. The kids are wildly implausible and a little bit irritating. When they're introduced, they're four years old, yet capable of executing masterful escape plots that require them to have extensive skills and knowledge. The only concession to their age is that Nepe talks in an "adorable" mushmouthed fashion, albeit with the same or greater vocabulary and sentence structure as everyone else. And yet both kids' parents mysteriously think their kids are developmentally delayed somehow.
2. Tania has been a classic sociopathic villain up til now, and in fact is the instigator of a really creepy coerced sexual encounter (rape scene #1!) but then she falls in love and is magically transformed into a good, ethical sympathetic person. But she can't have her love, because he's taken, so when she meets another random powerful man, she transfers that affection to him wholesale in about ten seconds. Man, that was a deep and powerful emotion... or something.
3. Yet more Games. Jesus, come on, man. Again, not poorly executed, but the stakes are higher every time and therefore the use of contests seems less and less plausible every time. Also it has officially Gotten Old.
4. The rape scenes. Seriously, the second half of the book is nothing but. Female character forced to tell a rape joke with herself as the victim to a live audience. Absolutely appalling surrogate rape "game." Goblin rape, multiple counts. Threatened child rape. I am not the most fragile flower about this stuff, but this was just gross - and certainly the rampant sexism throughout the series does not earn Anthony any leeway on this topic.
I am glad I finished this reread, because these were books I cared about when I was a kid, but... I'm finished. These aren't going to be taking up space on my shelves any longer. (Yes, there's one more book in the series. It's so bad that I didn't even bother adding it to my collection in the first place. Skip it!)(less)