Why did I spend so much time reading? Why did I/ do I love fantastic stories?
Who knows... It's not something to worry about.
Do you remember where you were then?
Neither do I.
I do remember that I started on a rather enjoyable voyage to the stars with Aleytys.
The book is Diadem from the Stars, the author is Jo Clayton.
It's a great story, of course, starting out with a robbery of the hi-tech futuristic variety that maybe gets you thinking the entire story is going one way but then the story really starts when you meet the heroine, Aleytys. Then, as we learn about her life, her world, it's something more of a fantasy... except of course it's not, or it is as all of these stories are always fantasy... but this is science fiction. Of the best kind.
If you're looking for a heroine with heart, compassion and a growing fear that she's a walking curse then this book is where you need to look.
Unfortunately I can't say anything about what I really like about the book, except it has heart. The pacing is great, the twists and turns are really good. The depth of characters is decent. I mean, Aleytys is the most developed character of the story, of course, but the supporting characters are introduced quickly and are more important to Aleytys than they were to me. Only a few had the kind of depth that Ms. Clayton developed in her later writing. But the story moves so fast that you barely notice that aspect, except that each of these characters, especially Daimon, add more and more to Aleytys.
Okay, I checked out the blurb on the back cover and figure I can give that much away.
Aleytys' mother was not of that world. Yeah, I know. From the introductory hints and by paying attention you get to know that this woman has to get to the stars, too.
We don't really know how old she is since the planet has a double sun, so how long could the years be if it orbits at a distance to allow life. I don't know, it didn't matter and that kind of calculation wasn't so important in the 70's in science fiction of this type, if it ever needs to be.
So the thief steals the diadem from some miserly aliens who then go on hunt for him, cause him to crash on her planet... and somehow she winds up with the diadem. That's obvious from the outside, but the development of the character of Aleytys... before she gets the diadem... is most of the book and as I said, it's a great book. After she gets the diadem some things change but we're running out of pages. I already know about the sequelsssssss and they only get better.
I can only imagine how I felt when the book ended... I wanted more, more, more... I always do when a good book ends. Fortunately, Ms. Clayton delivers... again and again.
I don't know if this is the first book of Ms. Clayton's that I read, I do know that when I went into bookstores (they did have bookstores in the 70's, moreso than now, I think, sometimes two or three in a mall) I would look in the science fiction/fantasy shelves and the yellow DAW book spines and search for her name. (Yes, they did alphabetize the shelves but I would look at all the books).
One of the things that struck me as I read this book again (today) is that she used a lot of creative language (not cussing) there were new and strange words to create the impression of an alien planet, alien language, customs that require formal words of this language as well as strange names. I'm perfectly fine with this setup. I roll with it as I read, building up a vocabulary as I build up an understanding of this strange world. Two or three different languages pop up in the story - what's wrong with that?
Except that you don't see that style much in current books, unless I'm missing a few.
The Lord of the Rings held several created languages, for elves and dwarves and even for various tribes of those, I believe. Of course J.R.R.Tolkien spent a lifetime on his work.
I wonder if Diadem from the Stars would get published today with all the strangeness in it, the strange languages and customs, if offered by some unknown writer. I certainly hope so but... writers must keep things simple and quick and filled with easily recognized icons so readers can relate quickly and appropriately. We can't confuse anyone with a strange word or thirty, that wouldn't be good.
When I read Diadem from the Stars and the sequels I had fun... it was an adventure... each one.
If you haven't read Jo Clayton's early works, I recommend this one.