Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review, No. 13, April 1983, p. 28.
Gilliland, Alexis A. The Pirates of Rosinante. Del Rey/Ballantine, NY, December 1982. 216 p. $2.50, paper. ISBN 0-345-30659-7
Gilliland recently won the John W. Campbell award for best new science fiction writer. The award doesn’t do Gilliland justice – The Pirates of Rosinante is a masterpiece worthy of a veteran. Mundito (“little world”) Rosinante, an artificial world located out beyond Mars, has accidentally drifted into several economic, political, military, and religious disputes. Elegant engineering and slick science overcome some problems, but Pirates also offers characters so well defined they seem like neighbors. Skaskash, a computer with a fondness for Humphrey Bogart and Toshiro Mifune, may well be one of the best electronic characters ever created.
While it is not a comic work, Pirates offers some delightful humor, ranging from the mocking title to the motto on Rosinante’s currency: Fiat Lucre (“Let There Be Money”). If you prefer something more involved, there is a surprise attack by the ship Pearl Harbor on the naval base Yamamoto, as well as John Wayne (played by Skashash) leading riflemen in an attack on a giant laser. Generally speaking, the villains are evil only because they take themselves too seriously, which is probably as good a definition of villainy as any.
The book’s one great flaw is the marketing. While it can be read and appreciated alone, Pirates is actually part of a much larger work which either Gilliland or Del Rey decided to divide and sell as a series. Many of the more involved plots were first introduced in The Revolution from Rosinante and Long Shot for Rosinante (both Del Rey, 1981). It is well worth the effort to seek out and read all three. Highly recommended. — Lawrence I. Charters