Tuesday 12 January 2021

Third Planet Fall Down - ML Clark - Menagerie Mysteries Book 1

Third Planet Fall Down 
ML Clark
eISBN 1230004401902

I must admit I had pretty high hopes for this story and it did not disappoint. I have been following Clark’s works for years, and eagerly anticipate each new one published, and lament some that have yet to see the light of day. I went around 25 years with a reading gap on mysteries. I got back into it by being intrigued by one I picked up for my father and have read many over the last 2 or three years. But this one is in many ways different from the typical mystery. And for fans of the mystery or Science fiction genre that is a good thing. And for fans of Clarks works it is great to have this first volume in what looks to be an immensely entertaining series. 

While reading this story several other stories, authors or even movies came to mind. First the covers immediately made me think about the editions of Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stories that I read 35ish years ago in High School.  The beginning of the story brought to mind the movie Memento. And it reminded me a lot of the stories involving Mike Hammer and Spencer. And my first thought was that I found it more of a thinking mystery than some of the other I have read. I was completely fascinated with the concept. And with the execution. But I had to go back and read a whole section because I had missed a piece and it was not making sense to me. 

The story at first did not make sense because it is unlike any world we would expect. Pax Murillo is a Private Investigator, hanging out in a bar waiting for a contact. But some things are off, and he realizes this but tries to just get his job done. In the story his thoughts frequently return to an old flame. The one who got away, or it was never the right time or right place. We soon learn as Pax does that this might be Earth, but not the Earth that he knew, and definitely not the Earth that we know. And that realization and his past make him a candidate to help solve a problem in the far future. 

The story deals with some huge questions. What does it mean to be? Processing of memories. And AI self actualizing. And Identity. All wrapped in an alien framework, with several species that are very un-human or should we say not very earthling like. 

I was about halfway through this one when I pre ordered the next volume, The Moon is Not my Name, and the others that are currently announced and look forward to where the series will head next. The title of the next alone evokes Heinlein. But only time will tell. Those high hopes that were mentioned at the beginning of the review, they were met and even exceeded. This was an excellent first novel in a series. Just be cautious, you might end up rereading it as soon as you finish, for you will see it with new and different eyes in that second iteration. A great read that I highly recommend. 

Books by M.L. Clark:
The Bitter Sweet Here and After - Short Story
Uncle Remy's Whizz-Bang Circus
Game of Primes
Fat of the Land
The Shape of Things to Come
The Stars, Their Faces Uplifted in Song

Then Raise the Dead Man High
The Shadow & The Shadow

The Menagerie Mysteries:
The Stars, At Last Count
Wildly Runs The Dying Sun

K-City Kink Sisters:
Lacing Up To Reality - Short Story
One For The Team - Short Story

Contributed to:
Bastion Issue #6 September 2014
Lightspeed: Year One
Lightspeed Magazine, March 2011
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2017

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2013
Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March 2014
Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2015

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 199
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 193
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 181
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 173
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 165
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 162
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 123
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 92
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 86
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 80
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 74

Works translated by M.L. Clark:
The Marquise of Yolombo - Tomás Carrasquilla

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