Phylogenesis: Book One of the Founding of the Commonwealth by Alan Dean Foster
In this book, Foster takes a look at the biblical story of the origins of Phylo, a kind of pastry that–
Oh, it is so funny.
Okay, actually, Foster returns to the past of his fictional Humanx Commonwealth, taking us to a time in which the three main races, Humans, Thranx and (their enemies) the Aan have all met, but humans and Thranx are not yet drawn together. A thranx poet named Desvendapur, henceforth called “Des”, who feels that his career is stagnating, decides that the way to improve his art is to get closer to humans. He finds out that there is a secret colony of humans on his home planet, so he changes his name and gets himself a job as a food preparer in the human colony. Because he does a good job at it, he ends up transferred to a corresponding Thranx colony on Earth, in the Amazon jungles.
In the meanwhile, human petty criminal Cheelo Montoya gets an opportunity to improve his life when he is offered a ‘franchise’–in what, we never learn. Needing to hide for a while, he takes to the Amazon jungles, where he runs into Des, who has left the Nest in an effort to meet humans. In Cheelo, he gets his fill.
Honestly, I didn’t like this one. I think the biggest part of the problem is that the two protagonists are the most selfish, self-centred pair of losers that have ever helmed an SF novel. Both carelessly and accidentally kill an innocent person early in their efforts and show no regrets about it. Furthermore, had the author not had an agenda, their early exposure of the Thranx nest on Earth might not have resulted in the formation of the Commonwealth but rather in a massacre that prevented it from happening at all.
Shadows in the Darkness by Elaine Cunningham
Gwen “Gigi” Gellman is an ex-cop turned private eye in the city of Providence (presumably RI, though as far as I could see we are never told). She looks younger than her age, and lost her job with the cops after a bust went bad and several cops died. Now she has been hired by a woman to find her missing daughter (the woman’s missing daughter, not Gwen’s). She — you know, I can’t really summarise this book all that well. It seems to go off in all sorts of directions, but pulls together well in the end, albeit in an unexpected place. This is an urban fantasy.