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Buy *Patrimony: A Pip and Flinx Adventure* by Alan Dean Foster

Patrimony: A Pip and Flinx Adventure
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
240 pages
October 2007
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Alan Dean Foster’s Patrimony brings his many fans both good and bad news about the series. The good news is that this is an excellent book, and that the series’ hero, Philip Lynx (Flinx), finally discovers on the planet called Gestalt the truth of his origins and parentage. The bad news is that it is the penultimate book in the series: there will be only one more book about Flinx and his pet Alaspinian venom-spewing minidrag, Pip. It will be difficult to make it as good or better than this book, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

Flinx has a lot of weight on his shoulders. Besides being an experiment of the eugenics-loving Meliorares, who have been edicted and hunted down, one by one; dealing with the empathic Talent that he uses as both a source of insight and as a weapon; he’s also been designated as the Trigger of a weapon to save the galaxy from a relentless, planet-eating evil exterminating scourge. He’s his galaxy’s only hope. But above everything else, including the fate of the galaxy and the Commonwealth, he’s driven by a desperate need to find out who his father was, and if he is still alive somewhere on Gestalt. Oh, and did I mention that there’s also a resident bounty hunter hot on Flinx’s trail who wants to earn the stupendous reward that’s been offered for proof of his death?

The dying words of a Meliorare known as Theon al-bar Cocarol - “I know who your father is...Gestalt” - leads Flinx to that out-of-the-way planet on his quest to locate his father. The Tlels make up the intelligent inhabitants of Gestalt. They have no eyes, relying instead on their ability to sense flii, or electromagnetic fields, similar to sharks. They’re a mostly benign race who have accepted and adapted well to being a part of the Commonwealth. The Tlel guide Bleshmaa agrees to help Flinx (traveling under the pseudonym he often uses, Skua Mastiff), get to a small village in the frozen north of Gestalt where he’s learned a man named Anayabi - a man who is Flinx’s best hope of either being his father or being someone who can lead him closer to his father.

Philip Lynx’s ship, the Teacher, doesn’t play as much of a part in this adventure as in some of his past ones. It’s relegated to spending most of the book in orbit around Gestalt, while Flinx makes use of skimmers, the mode of transportation the Tlels usually use. Pip also doesn’t play as great of a role as he often has, since the native creatures of Gestalt don’t possess eyes, and the way he disables/kills is by spitting venom into the eyes of whomever is trying to harm Flinx. He still is important to the story, however, and gets some opportunities to display his expectorant skills. The humor that underlies the Pip and Flinx adventures is alive and well in this installment, thankfully. One example is early on in the novel, when they land on Gestalt and see a large carnivorous beast pursuing smaller, rolling creatures on the tarmac:

The meat-eater didn’t bite its victims, or crunch them, or bring them down with fang and claw. It simply, efficiently, and bloodlessly vacuumed them up. This particular alien carnivore, Flinx reflected, sucked.
Flinx realizes that he’s being selfish by placing his own need to have a resolution first, to place the personal crisis of finding his father before the fate of the galaxy, but he does it anyway. The sense of guilt he feels invades his dreams, however, and he knows that eventually he’ll have to get back to the business of saving the galaxy:
His galaxy would be next. Millions of stars would vanish together with their companion worlds and nebulae. The Commonwealth and its tentative, burgeoning civilization, the Empire of the avaricious Aann, species independent and isolated, all would be erased from existence, eradicated as effectively and efficiently as he would delete a file from quantum storage. Ever unsated, the incalcuable malevolence would sweep on to the next galaxy, leaving only emptiness where intelligence had once dared to peep outward and contemplate itself.
Whether you are a long-time fan of the Pip and Flinx series or are a newcomer to it, I urge you to check out Patrimony as soon as you can. Philip Lynx and his minidrag are unique to science fiction, and a large part of the fun of reading a new book of their adventures is to see how they relate with the inhabitants of other worlds, and how Flinx uses his Talent to dispatch those who are desirous of ending his life. The quips he comes up with are, like those of James Bond, a nice humorous touch to the action. I’ll be sad to see the eventual end of the series, but I suppose all good things must one day come to an end. If you love science fiction with plenty of adventure and a good dose of humor, I recommend you to check out Patrimony and the entire Pip and Flinx series of books.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Douglas R. Cobb, 2007

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