Reviewer: Ian Leroux

Author: Spider Robinson

Published: 1976

Reviewed: 2010-04-03

Publisher: Tor

Spider Robinson's deep faith in human nature, in the capacity of
decent people to make the ugly world a better place, can be uplifting.
If you want a dose of that sort of thing, read "Callahan's Mistress."
Here, writing about a trained killer out to exact humanity's vengeance
on the man who shattered civilisation as we know it, Robinson's
concomitant inability to write a convincingly dark character (or even
a believably grey one) becomes something of a handicap. He just can't
help making his characters better than they at first seem. Having a
character change and grow and become kinder through a story is
laudable, but you need to invest a minimum page-count per character to
make the growth believable and you'd need a trilogy to do the job for
your entire cast.

That said, an expanded version of "Telempath" would have a lot going
for it. Robinson proposes an original and horrific technique to
destroy civilised humanity, a peculiar solution to all our ecological
problems, and some amusing observations on the connection between
current courtship conventions and the deficiencies of our sensory
apparatus. There's an under-exploited backstory about the politics
and logistics of rebuilding humanity from the ruins, a few interesting
tactical scenarios, and some amusing use of multiple unreliable
narrators: pay attention to the sources cited for each chapter; they
were chosen with care. There's much to like here; I'm just not sure
it all fits into a single 300-page trade paperback.