postheadericon Warren Peace, Gollancz, Hardback, ISBN 0-575-04918-9

Warren Peace was published by Gollancz in hardback in 1993 but renamed as ‘Dimensions’ when it came out as a paperback – also published by Gollancz in the UK. It is the sequel to Who Goes Here?

I had this short review all ready until I realised something: it is also the last novel that Bob Shaw published. It has been said that Shaw went through a period of writer’s block: indeed during the eighties and nineties Shaw released revised and updated versions of his works. For books like Ground Zero Man and The Shadow of Heaven this may have been justified as they had limited releases in the UK on their first outing. For a while Shaw issued a book a year: indeed during the seventies there were sometimes two per year, with the latter part of the seventies perhaps his most productive time.

Although saying Warren Peace is a sequel may not be entirely accurate as the book takes the story, characters and situation to a different level.

Warren Peace

Peace is now one of the Oscars, the elite Golden Supermen who have no need for food, drink or sex. But Warren is not happy with his situation. In fact he is bored rigid. We meet him on the eighth day of the Oscar Galactic Jamboree and he is not having any fun at all. Luckily for Warren he comes across a group of criminals who are getting ready to attack the Oscars.

Warren thinks the plan is to strand the Oscars on the planet but the big glowing purple rock that is dropped on them and kicked away into space by Warren has more implications.

The rock turns out to have been Pryktonite, which for Oscars is a fate worse than death – it turns them back into human beings.

The Oscars quickly deduce that this is the work of the Galaxies greatest villain, Jeeves. Jeeves has evaded the Oscars by reverting to his nice side any time he is captured. However, his evil side will want revenge on the person who foiled his plan to eliminate the Oscars: Warren Peace.

Dimensions

The Oscars want to protect Warren but Warren doesn’t want to be bored to death by their lifestyle. He is still kept within the Oscars but sent to worlds where the Oscars can’t do much. His first job is at the sea planet Golborne where he has to work out what exactly is the alien porn that keeps turning on the workers called squelchers.

It is on this planet that Peace is caught in an elaborate trap laid out by Jeeves, who, in classic villain style, explains the trap to Peace. It seems that Jeeves’ assistant, Wimpole, didn’t get the black holes needed for the plan but instead got Puce Holes, which have an entirely different effect.

Peace thinks he has only been displaced in space due to the actions of Jeeves. His ship is lost in waters as he lands. The situation becomes confusing as Warren tries to figure out where and when he is without making the locals suspicious – it doesn’t work as the local Landlord gets angry at Warren a couple of times; the threat of violence which he manages to extricate himself from.

Warren quickly concludes that he is in another universe, where time and circumstances were different and society grew in a different direction. His next step was to go to Manchester, where they built spaceships. Warren gets a job as a draughtsman and his next plan is to work out how to get back to his universe and tackle Jeeves.

To be honest the book is a bit of a mish-mash, and I think Shaw padded it out with a couple of short stories from elsewhere as the first part of the book is a little episodic, something similar to Ship of Strangers which was a novel created from previously published short stories.

This doesn’t stop it being tremendously enjoyable – although not quite as funny as the predecessor Who Goes Here – particularly when Warren finds himself in an alternate world with a close resemblance to Victorian society. Personally I found too many situation changes for my liking. Generally there is only one real twist in most novels, which should occur halfway through. With Warren Peace there are a couple which, although it doesn’t spoil enjoyment of the book, didn’t ring right either.

This may have worked a little better if it wasn’t linked to Who Goes Here? An entirely separate hero going through the latter half of the novel may have been more entertaining and rewarding. Certainly the predicament Warren finds himself in halfway through the novel is very far removed from the central premise and the central threat of Jeeves.

The Jeeves/Oscar storyline could have been issued on its own and the time/alternate universe story could easily have stood on its own.

But we have this novel from Bob Shaw, his last. Not by any means his best but a good solid novel revisiting familiar characters and exploring high concept ideas. The alternate universe was well drawn and well thought out and would have been fun to explore further.

3 Responses to “Warren Peace, Gollancz, Hardback, ISBN 0-575-04918-9”

  • Mike Moir:

    Hi

    Love your Blog as always, but your assumptions about Bob’s writing rate – in is last few years – are kinda wrong.

    You’ve been looking at the number or original new books he produced each year. He had for many years found his possible output was limited around one 160-190 page novel a year (and occasionally the odd short story). Starting with The Ragged Astronauts -his publishers persuaded him to write novels of 300+ pages (he managed this with ‘Ragged…’ but later volumes got shorter and shorter). Bob told me that the publication of the first hardbacks of older material was Gollancz little ‘gift’ to keep his cash flow steady as he took longer to produce completed novels. In those days Gollancz really knew how to look after an author even if he wasn’t A list.

    Hope this helps

    Mike

  • admin:

    Thanks for the information Mike. Unless, like you, there is inside information I can only go on what is publicly available, and half the time that’s going to be opinion and speculation as there isn’t too much about Bob online. I’d never really thought about the publishers pushing for longer novels – thus increasing writing time – but I suppose it’s obvious really. Most novels are doorstops nowadays. Gollancz reissuing his earlier works is a gift to his readers too. I think Gollancz are still highly regarded as a publisher even now when the publishing world has changed dramatically from Bob’s time.

    It’s always good to have you comment on here.

  • […] new to me is A Time To Kill, seeing as the other piece of fiction, Alien Porn, is an extract from Warren Peace – which is nicely placed at the middle of the magazine, and therefore has the staples going […]

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