Author: Alan Dean Foster
I’ve been working my way through the Pip & Flinx books since 2016. When I started the series, the final book was Flinx Transcendant, which had been released in 2009. In 2017, Foster released Strange Music as yet another book in the series. While many fans had to wait 8 years to read this book, I finished Flinx Transcendant way back in the far off time of 87 days ago, so it’s possible my view of the book will be different than the hardcore fans who were reading these as they were released. When we last saw Mr. Flinx and his life companion Clarity, he had saved the universe from a destruction (that was probably a thousand years away or more) and had settled down on the planet Cachalot.
Strange Music picks up about a year after Flinx Transcendent, with Flinx dealing with a new challenge, boredom. Thankfully for him, he gets roped into visiting another alien world (the best of this series continues to be new settings and cultures in every book) to solve a problem not of his making. Set on the fairly primitive world of Largess, Strange Music has Flinx doing work for the Church in the form of discovering what human is violating edicts by providing technology to the locals, and even rescuing a princess of sorts in the form of the all-important first born.
The rest of Flinx’s normal companions are absent from this book with the exception of Sylzenzuzex who recruits Flinx for this mission but does not accompany him. Flinx’s companion in this book is a seal like alien local who reminded me a bit of Snake Plissken. The character serves as Flinx’s guide for the alien world as well as conversation companion. Speaking of conversation, the dialogue in Strange Music is one of the more interesting as well as tedious aspects of the book. The main alien aspect of the Largess locals is their style of communication, called sing-speak. Rather than speak to each other, they sing to each other. Unbeknownst to Flinx until his arrival, this also means the locals don’t project their emotions to him while they’re communicating, negating a lot of his abilities that make him so powerful.
If I’d been waiting for this book for years, I’d have been more letdown by the lack of scenes with Clarity or the teacher. Instead it felt like a natural continuation of the next book in a series where aside from Pip & Flinx the rest of the characters kind of come and go. I was never a huge fan of the universe eating evil that Flinx had to combat, so these smaller scale stories are more to my preference. My main gripe with the book was the continued singing and flowery language instead of dialogue. While it was an interesting idea and makes sense when there are animals in the wild that communicate through song, it was tiresome to read and it didn’t make sense that Flinx would succeed where others hadn’t within that structure of communication.