April 14, 1980 12:00 PM

by Robert Silverberg

Valentine is on his way to the coastal town of Pidruid when he runs into a young herdsman looking after “fat sleek purple-skinned beasts.” Gradually the reader discovers that the hero, who doesn’t know who he is or where he got the considerable money he has, is in a peculiar world, full of multi-limbed creatures from an odd, racially mixed society that believes in dreams. While many aspects of this land seem medieval—Valentine falls in with a band of traveling jugglers—vehicles float on air and the science of medicine is far in advance of our own. Robert Heinlein’s classic fantasy Stranger in a Strange Land has an inadvertent bawdiness that cheapens it. This absorbing book is more successful in creating a wildly imaginative universe. It is also better written than most in this genre and deserves to be one of the year’s hits, sci-fi or otherwise. (Harper & Row, $12.50)

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