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Mirage

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The second book in the Web Shifter's Library series returns to the adventures of Esen, a shapeshifting alien who must navigate the perils of a hostile universe. Relationships get complicated when you don’t know who—or what—you really are. Esen must find a way to rescue a hapless group of chimeras, beings who are a new and unique blend of species she knows, when she can’t be The second book in the Web Shifter's Library series returns to the adventures of Esen, a shapeshifting alien who must navigate the perils of a hostile universe. Relationships get complicated when you don’t know who—or what—you really are. Esen must find a way to rescue a hapless group of chimeras, beings who are a new and unique blend of species she knows, when she can’t become one herself. When Evan Gooseberry tries to help, he is shattered to learn he himself isn’t entirely Human and begins to suspect his new friend Esen isn’t what she seems. Complicating matters, a mysterious contagion has killed the crew of the ship that brought the chimeras—and Evan—to Botharis. Everyone’s been quarantined inside the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture, including over a hundred disgruntled alien scholars. The risks climb as Skalet and Lionel continue their quest to solve the disappearance of Paul’s mother’s ship, the Sidereal Pathfinder, only to find themselves caught in a tangle of loyalties as Skalet is betrayed by her own Kraal affiliates, who infiltrate the Library. All of which would be quite enough for one Web-being’s day, but Paul Ragem hopes to rekindle the romance of his first love. A shame Esen hasn’t told him who’s hiding in their greenhouse.


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The second book in the Web Shifter's Library series returns to the adventures of Esen, a shapeshifting alien who must navigate the perils of a hostile universe. Relationships get complicated when you don’t know who—or what—you really are. Esen must find a way to rescue a hapless group of chimeras, beings who are a new and unique blend of species she knows, when she can’t be The second book in the Web Shifter's Library series returns to the adventures of Esen, a shapeshifting alien who must navigate the perils of a hostile universe. Relationships get complicated when you don’t know who—or what—you really are. Esen must find a way to rescue a hapless group of chimeras, beings who are a new and unique blend of species she knows, when she can’t become one herself. When Evan Gooseberry tries to help, he is shattered to learn he himself isn’t entirely Human and begins to suspect his new friend Esen isn’t what she seems. Complicating matters, a mysterious contagion has killed the crew of the ship that brought the chimeras—and Evan—to Botharis. Everyone’s been quarantined inside the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture, including over a hundred disgruntled alien scholars. The risks climb as Skalet and Lionel continue their quest to solve the disappearance of Paul’s mother’s ship, the Sidereal Pathfinder, only to find themselves caught in a tangle of loyalties as Skalet is betrayed by her own Kraal affiliates, who infiltrate the Library. All of which would be quite enough for one Web-being’s day, but Paul Ragem hopes to rekindle the romance of his first love. A shame Esen hasn’t told him who’s hiding in their greenhouse.

30 review for Mirage

  1. 4 out of 5

    Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller

    I’m a mega Czerneda fan, and Beholder’s Eye (the first Esen novel) has long been a go-to scifi recommend. It was my first Czerneda… heck, it was one of my first sci-fi’s, and I’m sure that plays a role in how thoroughly I’m enjoying this revisit, even 15 years later. Since that first read, I’ve read all of the sci-fi trilogy sets she has on the market, and one thing has become abundantly clear: Czerneda is having more fun than ever. Her writing always had a good bit of situational humor (my favor I’m a mega Czerneda fan, and Beholder’s Eye (the first Esen novel) has long been a go-to scifi recommend. It was my first Czerneda… heck, it was one of my first sci-fi’s, and I’m sure that plays a role in how thoroughly I’m enjoying this revisit, even 15 years later. Since that first read, I’ve read all of the sci-fi trilogy sets she has on the market, and one thing has become abundantly clear: Czerneda is having more fun than ever. Her writing always had a good bit of situational humor (my favorite kind), but this latest trilogy really amps up that component, making the books an absolute riot. The tone actually fits in nicely with the latest generation of sci-fi that boasts a lighter, feel-good atmosphere (hi Becky Chambers), so she’s on trend, and recommending her just got even easier. Good humor aside, she includes some of my favorite creature creations (aliens) across the genre, which is still true now that I’ve read a LOT more sci-fi authors. With a background in biology, Czerneda’s aliens are always well thought out and expertly executed. The fun element comes into play here as well – the ways the aliens interact with the main characters is always great for some laughs. She also has good characters. I like that Esen isn’t written from a human-minded POV. She’s a Web-Being with thought patterns and tendencies different than our own. Thank goodness we have Paul (human) to keep Esen grounded. ;P Czerneda also has excellent perspective immersion… which can sometimes be so well done that it sacrifices clarity for creativity. All of her books include these signature interlude chapters that take away all context and throw you into the depths of an alien perspective. They’re quite ambiguous and I often find myself retreading them to figure out what’s going on (not that reading them over helps much). Even when seriously studying them for the chance to become a beta reader for another Czerneda project, I struggled with these passages (which is probably why I just missed out on the opportunity). These passages also exhibit a clipped, to the point writing style that makes an appearance to a lesser degree in the rest of her works. Her writing is very stylized, and she often seems more interested in the cadence and mood of the delivery than she is in proper sentence structures (a liberty I don’t mind in the least as it makes the books feel more conversational). In recent books, that unique style has gotten more refined, to the point where the pacing of the scenes rockets (not to be confused with the pacing of plot-advancement, which is ironically a bit slow). It makes for an engaging read, just don’t blink or you’ll miss something. Overall, this was a good bit of blue blob fun, and I can’t wait to see what Czerneda has in store next. Recommendations: don’t start here! Go back and begin with Beholder’s Eye or even a different great series starting with Survival. Both hold sacred space on my bookshelves. I’d like to thank DAW Publishing, Julie E. Czerneda, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Mirage! Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com Other books you might like:

  2. 5 out of 5

    Minx

    Mirage was a fun and exciting addition to the Web Shifter’s Library series! This story deals with the indirect consequence of a choice made by Esen that was creatively interpreted. Anything that involves Esen always seems to skew to a much larger scale than she ever intended but her intentions are always so sincere and good that it is hard to get mad at her or dislike her for her choices. I just love her character because she is so entertaining. Something exciting about Mirage was that there was Mirage was a fun and exciting addition to the Web Shifter’s Library series! This story deals with the indirect consequence of a choice made by Esen that was creatively interpreted. Anything that involves Esen always seems to skew to a much larger scale than she ever intended but her intentions are always so sincere and good that it is hard to get mad at her or dislike her for her choices. I just love her character because she is so entertaining. Something exciting about Mirage was that there was a further exploration of Esen’s web and more details about what being web meant. I loved Skalet in this story as well as Evan, he is just too adorable! There was a lovely mystery weaved into this story and even a blast from Paul’s past. Also, there was much to uncover because more than one character was playing things close to the chest and sooner or later all would be revealed. Overall, Mirage was a creative tale of science fiction that had many quirky and entertaining characters. It was a treat! This review is based on a complimentary book I received from DAW Books. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    What a thoroughly entertaining read! This series has what I enjoy most in science fiction: plenty of believable aliens with their own cultures, biology, motivations, etc. etc.! Can't wait for the next installment in this series! Highly recommended for series readers, hard sf fans, and fans of this Web Shifters series!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ernest

    Mirage (Web Shifter’s Library) by Julie E. Czerneda | Aug 11, | DAW Julie E. Czerneda’s second novel about the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture brings back a cast of characters that readers of her work will enjoy spending time with. These include Esen, the shapeshifting web being, and Evan Gooseberry, the alien ambassador with anxiety issues around aliens, who has chosen to spend his vacation at the library rather than facing family wondering when he’s going to provide more Goosebe Mirage (Web Shifter’s Library) by Julie E. Czerneda | Aug 11, | DAW Julie E. Czerneda’s second novel about the All Species’ Library of Linguistics and Culture brings back a cast of characters that readers of her work will enjoy spending time with. These include Esen, the shapeshifting web being, and Evan Gooseberry, the alien ambassador with anxiety issues around aliens, who has chosen to spend his vacation at the library rather than facing family wondering when he’s going to provide more Gooseberrys. Since Esen, who’s a close friend, can morph into any known alien, it’s a good thing that her talent is kept secret from him and he only knows her in her favored form as a “canid-like” Lanivarian, though he actually knows her in several other forms…just not that they’re all her. There’s a fair amount going on at the library. Esen is busy keeping a web being she’s resurrected from scattered DNA hidden until she’s herself again, so there are more secrets than usual floating around. A crisis Esen doesn’t actually cause arrises when the library is forced into lockdown as a possible pandemic site after the crew of the ship that Evan arrived on is found dead, and a group of gene-spliced aliens who’ve come to the library to research a place where their race can live sets of a whole new level of galactic intrigue. And much, much, more. More: https://amazingstories.com/2020/07/sc...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Fantastic addition to the web shifter's universe.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerold Farver

    I had forgotten how good a writer this woman is, as soon I write this review I have to buy every title I don't own! ...BUY, buy

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie McDaniel

    This is the latest in a series started more than twenty years ago (in mass market paperback, no less! I miss MMPs) about a fascinating alien race. Esen-alit-Quar is a Web-being, a (to use a memorable phrase from this book) "bright blue blobbie that eats tree trunks." Web-beings evolved in vacuum and can survive and travel in it, can take the form of any species whose DNA they assimilate, communicate with each other by exchanging hunks of Web-flesh containing specially sorted memories, and are da This is the latest in a series started more than twenty years ago (in mass market paperback, no less! I miss MMPs) about a fascinating alien race. Esen-alit-Quar is a Web-being, a (to use a memorable phrase from this book) "bright blue blobbie that eats tree trunks." Web-beings evolved in vacuum and can survive and travel in it, can take the form of any species whose DNA they assimilate, communicate with each other by exchanging hunks of Web-flesh containing specially sorted memories, and are damn near immortal (though they can be killed and kind of resurrected, as this book reveals). Esen is the Youngest of her Web, and this series tells the story of a bright, inquisitive, impulsive, curious, loyal, and good-hearted Web-being who strikes up a friendship with a Human, Paul Ragem. This relationship is the heart of the series. Julie E. Czerneda is a biologist, and her endlessly inventive aliens and alien cultures are a highlight of the series. This is a good thing, at least as far as this book is concerned, because the plot comes in a bit of a distant second. That's not to say things don't happen. The All Species' Library of Linguistics and Culture, established by Esen and Paul in the final book of the first trilogy as a repository of information about alien species, is prominent in this book. There is a new mystery and some progression of the overarching plot. It's just reeeealllllly slooooooowww. There are lots of short chapters dealing with three separate storylines, and it seems to take forever to define the conflict in this book and advance the plot. I could deal with the slow pace, and for me the delightful secondary characters (especially Lambo the huffy, shouty Carasian and the Human Duggs Pouncey, who sees Esen in her native form dissolving huge sections of tree trunk and doesn't bat an eye) carried the book along when the storyline was dragging. Your mileage will definitely vary on this. (One thing I did not like was this book's cover. It depicts Esen and one of the secondary characters, Evan Gooseberry, but...gah. That needed to be sent back for another take.) A great deal of this book seemed to be setup for the concluding book in the trilogy. I certainly hope there's more plot movement and faster pacing. But this was good enough for me to pick up the final book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    The books seems to have a plot - the Library is at the center of an interstellar intrigue - but the book is primarily a cross-species comedy of manners. Scholars from numerous species meet peacefully at the Library, but you never know when one will mistake another for lunch. At the center is Esen, who is a centuries-old expert on other species, but who is also an impulsive child who is constantly getting into trouble. The book is good, but not outstanding. I had a hard time pushing through the mi The books seems to have a plot - the Library is at the center of an interstellar intrigue - but the book is primarily a cross-species comedy of manners. Scholars from numerous species meet peacefully at the Library, but you never know when one will mistake another for lunch. At the center is Esen, who is a centuries-old expert on other species, but who is also an impulsive child who is constantly getting into trouble. The book is good, but not outstanding. I had a hard time pushing through the middle, which was a bit too full of chaos, and a bit too dependent on the triumph of good intentions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darceylaine

    A delightful and uplifting read during these difficult pandemic times. SO great to have characters with personal integrity and conscience. Also great to have so many fantastical examples into how cultural misunderstandings and communication happen. I gave the book only 3 stars because I've seen all these themes and tropes from Czerneda before. Also because sometimes her sentences are a bit convoluted and her references to previous books oblique and unnecessary. I will absolutely keep reading the A delightful and uplifting read during these difficult pandemic times. SO great to have characters with personal integrity and conscience. Also great to have so many fantastical examples into how cultural misunderstandings and communication happen. I gave the book only 3 stars because I've seen all these themes and tropes from Czerneda before. Also because sometimes her sentences are a bit convoluted and her references to previous books oblique and unnecessary. I will absolutely keep reading the series and any other books she writes. Her books are comfort food to me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Widdowson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lira

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia L. Walker

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Berg

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Timpf

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pam Larson

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Stephen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

  20. 5 out of 5

    Judi Waiser

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nemera

  22. 5 out of 5

    George Losey

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Bentz

  24. 5 out of 5

    Clint Peden

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Reeves

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adelas

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sonic Rainboom

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cpegg

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kira Avery

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angela

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