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    PYRAMID SCHEME by Dave Freer and Eric Flint

    Baen, October 2001

    A black pyramid descends from space onto the University of Chicago campus and starts to grow, swallowing people and spitting many, but not all, of them out as corpses. One group, including two soldiers, a policeman, two professors, and a repairman, is the exception. They don't die. Inside the pyramid, they find an entire universe derived from ancient myth. Wily Odysseus (from Homer's Odyssey) wants to enslave them, the Olympian Gods want them dead, and some pyramid-related force is trying to control all of their actions while simultaneously attempting to provoke a nuclear attack by the U.S. government.

    Authors Dave Freer and Eric Flint (see more reviewd of novels by this author) offer a fast-paced and largely light-hearted romp through the underside of the Greek myths. Rather than the sugar-coated version, Freer and Flint go back to the unvarnished originals where Zeus perpetually punishes Prometheus for his gift of fire to man, and where wise Athena turned a woman into a spider for daring to think that her weaving could compete with that of a god. At the same time, they develop characters that are both likable and believable.

    While PYRAMID SCHEME is a likable romp, several plot holes weaken the story by making it seem episodic rather than fully integrated. The Olympian conflict between the present-day humans and the Olympian Gods is clearly a critical element in the story, yet it is unclear exactly how this conflict resolves the problems for the protagonists, nor how it impacts the pyramid-masters. The Odyssey elements don't really advance the plot at all. Finally, the escape from the pyramid could have been achieved without all of the rest of the story (and by the way, whatever happened to Police Lieutenant Salinas?).

    Flaws aside, PYRAMID SCHEME is an enjoyable read. Likable characters and an action-filled story line certainly compensate for any structural problems and make this novel worth the investment.

    Three Stars

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