Off the Shelf

“Juxtaposition”

By Marcus Pan

JuxtapositionTrilogies upon trilogies upon trilogies – and every now and then a big enough series to choke a few herds. Piers Anthony folks...the man on a mission to create as many worlds as possible and sometimes, as in this one and its other cohorts (Blue Adept and Split Infinity – all part of The Apprentice Adept trilogy), has smooshed two in one. Let's review...

Way back in September of 2002, I reviewed Blue Adept(1), which is the second book in this series. I promptly pooped on its head. Juxtaposition picks up where it left off. Stile wins the tourney and becomes a citizen in Proton, the technological and scientific "frame" on one side of the curtain. He is also, already, the Blue Adept in Phaze, the magical and fantastical side of the curtain. Being that his other self in Phaze got his butt whacked, Stile can now bop back and forth across the curtain whenever he feels like, say, a hot coffee or a cool tankard.

One of the big reason I pooped on Blue Adept was about the curtain. Behold my statement from the past: "It seems and acts as a dimensional portal, with opposites yet equals on either side of the curtain. The idea of it is barely touched upon on a theoretical level within Blue Adept..." The key word here is "within." Blue Adept didn't really talk about the curtain much, and I assumed Split Infinity, the start of all this hoopla, did. I, as I already stated in '02, did not read Split Infinity. However...here in Juxtaposition the frames and curtain are explained. And explained very well indeed.

The curtain turns out to play a major role in the movement of this trilogy rather than being a little hop-around spot as it seemed in Blue Adept. In Juxtaposition it turns out that Stile has to save both the frames by moving things around. It's like a really good puzzle game, actually, with finely wrought riddles from the Oracle, and interesting ways to overcome these riddles. Piers has always been good at this sort of thing and caters to it regularly in Xanth, one of his other series, especially.

It seems that every now and again, two parallel – equal but opposite – planes align in certain spots of the universe. One hinted at spot was Medieval Europe, which actually adds a lot of character to Piers work here as it piggy-backs off of untold amounts of Earth myths and legends. But also every now and again these frames need to separate completely, so that things can move on in their normal manner. But if they don't separate with similar masses and energy levels, shit pretty much caves.

So Stile's mission is to mess with basic ingredients of both worlds. And since those basic ingredients are worlds of importance to both societies, he has quite a bit of trouble attempting it. Of course a war ensues...but strangely this large war is barely noticeable. It's the puzzle solving that has made Juxtaposition a worthy read, and the well done explanation of the curtain and frames.

It took a bit of time getting there. Piers likes to repeat himself. Or at least his characters do. Sometimes Stile will remember something for the umpteenth time and regale us with dialogue about something we read a few chapters ago – for another chapter in length. Juxtaposition could easily have been half as large. Hell, I'm willing to bet that if Piers was able to smoosh two complete worlds into one trilogy, he probably could have told Stile to shut up about this or that already and smooshed the whole durned trilogy into one long novel. But no...

It was a grand ending though!

“Juxtaposition” by Piers Anthony
Copyright © 1982 by Piers Anthony
A Del Rey Book
Published by Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0-345-28215-9
(1) Review in Legends #126.

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