The Flinx and Pip series by Alan Dean Foster appeared on my radar screen in the late seventies. I was ushered into this series via Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Alien movie adaptation. Before that my experience with science fiction had been movies and comic books. Although my mom read War of the Worlds to me as a kid. I only understood parts of it. Yes, my mom read a turn-of-the-century H.G. Wells novel to me as a young nipper. My mom is awesome.
Alan Dean Foster got a bad rep in the seventies and eighties because of all of his movie adaptations. He did a lot of them. I don’t criticize him, because I’m happy for any writer making good money. Good for him.
Anyway, I saw his name on a book: The Tar-Aiym Krang. That title just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Still, I rather enjoyed it. So I got the rest in the series: Orphan Star and The End of the Matter and Bloodhype. Mind you, Bloodhype is an oddball entry in the series. It was written second, but comes in . . . I’m not exactly sure where it fits in the chronology. More on that later.
Basic premise of the series is nothing radically new. Far future space civilization (The Commonwealth) with multiple worlds and alien civilizations. The fun part is the dual civilizations of human and Thranx (which are mantis-like alien insects). Foster sets up the framework for all his Commonwealth books in this series. It’s a setting every bit as rich and interesting as anything created by Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson or Larry Niven. (None of which I had read as a young teenager.) It has lost alien civilizations, cosmic threats and alien artifacts. Meat and drink to the science fiction or space opera genre.
The main character in this series is Flinx. He’s a psionic orphan who grows up poor and becomes a thief and (sometime) con artist on the planet Moth (named because of wing-like rings). His “sidekick” is a flying alien snake with deadly and acidic venom. It’s also empathic and “links” with Flinx.
The unlikely duo runs into various adventures, usually because of Flinx’s precognitive flashes that lead him into strange situations. He also later discovers that he was genetically engineered by a secretive group to give him his abilities.
The series continued after that, but the strongest ones were the first ones. Bloodhype is the oddball one because Flinx and Pip are background characters, rather than the main ones. It’s still a very good book, but go into it understanding that it’s only marginally a Flinx and Pip book.
This series was my introduction into reading science fiction and I don’t feel cheated. Still good stuff and I still like Alan Dean Foster a lot. Although his fantasy is a mixed bag at best. His Spellsinger series is awful. I did like Into the Out Of, but I’d call that horror. I would strongly advise checking out his The Damned series. It’s great.
Honestly, the Flinx and Pip series would make a great movie or television series. It’s straightforward, but with plenty of room to expand a universe.