The Fathergod Experiment by L. A. Taylor
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Kinland is full of secrets. High Court politics holds the key to a secret at the heart of a world. Jen Makeready is dead…. Now Lilz is caught up in the web of intrigue that may unravel a few secrets about her own past…and those of Kinland itself!
L. A. Taylor uses two threads – the past and the present – to weave a tapestry of betrayal and intrigue. As the pattern comes together, we see the girl Lilz used to be and the strong, complex woman she has become. What are the mysterious whizzers, not in keeping with the level of her culture’s technology but very much in tune with the atmophere of secrets and spying? The science fiction is deftly woven into a society that has very little science.
An odd mixture of alternate worlds and cultural experimentation, told entirely from the viewpoint of the medieval world being experimented upon, The Fathergod Experiment is the late L. A. Taylor’s longest and best novel. Both the heroine and her world are fully and vividly realized, not to mention interesting, even fascinating at times. For those who enjoyed Cat’s Paw, her offbeat, hard-to-classify novel about magic that isn’t really magic, The Fathergod Experiment is a “must read.” –Gene DeWeese, Midwest Book Review
L.A. Taylor has published a series of mysteries, a science fiction novel, and a charming fantasy, Cat’s Paw. Now, in The Fathergod Experiment, she gives us a quirky, complex, interesting tale that combines court intrigue with mysteries both scientific and criminal, and a thoroughly satisfying story of an orphan rising from obscurity and oppression. While definitely science fiction, it offers the pleasures of several other kinds of fiction–historical romance, fantasy, and mystery–as well as the greater pleasure of watching an intelligent, sensible author play with, undercut, and reverse genre cliches. A neat book, fun to read. I recommend it. –Eleanor Arnason, author of Ring of Swords, A Woman of the Iron People (winner of the James Tiptree, Jr., and Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards), Daughter of the Bear King, To the Resurrection Station, and The Sword Smith
L. A. Taylor before her death had set up Allau Press to reprint some of her own work that she thought would lend itself to self-publication, and brought out Footnote to Murder (a reprint of her first murder mystery, minus the editorial changes in the ending) and Women’s Work (fantasy and sf stories reprinted from various magazines). She had also completed a novel, The Fathergod Experiment, which those of us who heard it workshopped loved. Her husband, Allen Sparer, has now brought it out in trade paperback format….
The Fathergod Experiment is intricately structured: chapters 1-13 are split-level, one part telling “current” events, as the indentured servant Lilz brings her selfish mistress Fenne news of a death that makes it possible for Fenne to divorce her first husband and re-marry, and the other part telling the events that led up to the death. When past catches up with present, the narrative continues with a not-dunnit murder mystery, a double riddle of getting Fenne acquitted of murder without letting her save herself by accusing Lilz. (It will be obvious to the reader that Lilz is not guilty. The actual question of who-dunnit is interesting, but the narrative concentrates on the less usual question of how to win acquittal.) The murder and the society are based on a model from a period rarely used in either fantasy or sf: the Overbury Murder Case from the reign of James I, in the early 17th century. Lilz’s Kinland is similar to James’s England, but much changed from our world by magic powers (or what they take to be magic powers) inherited by the kings. The novel is fascinating on all these levels–as a murder mystery, as historical, and as f/sf alternate-world. –Ruth Berman, Mythprint
About the Author:
Always someone who knew what she wanted, L. A. Taylor had already chosen a writing career by the time she was in first grade. Staring at the usual exhortation to Spot (Run! Run! Run! Run, Spot, run!), she was vouchsafed a blinding insight: People make this stuff up! I can do that! At the age of 11, she sent her first story to Analog, and got back her first rejection letter. Although she wasn’t exactly discouraged, she didn’t immediately return to writing. Meanwhile, she went to college, majored in math, worked at a variety of jobs, married and had two children. When she went back to writing, she started with poetry, and her collection Changing the Past won the Minnesota Voices award. L.A. Taylor is the author of several mystery novels (including Footnote to Murder), fantasy and science fiction novels (including Cat’s Paw, and Blossom of Erda) and a number of short stories. She died of cancer in 1996. The Fathergod Experiment was published in her memory.