Few are the fantasies so peculiar and satisfying as this, a deliciously weird mix of alien races, Native American culture and government intrigue.
Ishpiming picks up where the first in Baker’s NeitherWorld series (Akiiwan, 2007) left off. This time around is the story of archaeologist Samantha Horner, an Ojibwe expert called in to excavate a singularly unique site in Minnesota. The site–which not incidentally piques the interest of crooked U.S. government agents–houses the body of 17th-century shaman Voice-in-the-Sky, a Native American leader who made contact with an alien race. Ten-year-old Orenda–herself a descendent of Voice-in-the-Sky–has mysteriously transported Horner and members of her dig team to a far-off world. Only here does Horner come to realize that the conflicts surrounding her excavation have taken on interstellar import. Dangers multiply, and Horner and her team learn that the nefarious designs of corrupt Washington bureaucrats are the least of their problems, for humanity is endangered by the Lupok, an alien race hell-bent on conquering Earth and enslaving all who live there. This volume is an even stranger and more ambitious work than its predecessor. Filled with strange creatures, extraterrestrial landscapes and a startling array of alien races vying for galactic ascendancy, Ishpiming taxes the imagination. But much to the author’s credit, readers will remain entranced by this strange new world. Like the best fantasy authors, Baker has a knack for fleshing out his marvelous creations, making the oddest of creatures–e.g., the eerie pink caterpillars that inhabit the NeitherWorld–as real and believable as his human characters. He has a strong faith in the power of his fiction, and that faith is strangely infectious.
An audacious but thoroughly enthralling fantasy.