Subtitled “A Novel with Gravitas,” Valkyrie on Planet Fury is the second short sci-fi work narrated by its full-figured heroine Val-Sybilla. In her first excursion (Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone), author Lynne Murray’s adventuress found herself stranded on Planet Earth, a far different world from the matriarchal world she calls home. Set after our heroine’s return (accompanied by her first husband Josu), Planet Fury sends the duo to a different dangerous setting – one ruled by cutthroat warrior women who appear to have inspired the Earth legends of snake-haired Gorgons. Complicating matters (as it did in the first book) is the fact that the women of Sybil’s world contain gravitas, a powerful aphrodisiac pheromone that puts any male who comes into contact with them in their thrall.
Where Sybil’s first adventure centered around the character’s takes on patriarchal Earth culture (amusingly exemplified by Northern California), the second finds her negotiating her way through three distinct women-led societies: the brutal warrior world of the Furies (where the women exude a more anger-inducing pheromone called wroth), the more exotic world of the Sirens (more seductive, but also cannibalistic), and Sybil’s homeworld where her sister Cariya has been scheming to take over her estate. On her world, the gravitas infused women are expected to take on multiple husbands, and while Sybil has three other spouses as window dressing, her monogamous attraction to Josu has made her the object of suspicion.
The emphasis, as it was in the first book, is more on our lead manipulating her way through each distinctly different culture than on physical action. During her time on Fury, Sybil has to uncover the identity of an assassin, plus save a group of young Furies who lack enough wroth to make them fierce warriors but who can commune with other dimensional demons. The demons, who also appeared in the first book, provide some of Planet Fury’s more openly comic moments as the three demons who consistently appear before our heroine delight in taking forms inspired by old Earth movies.
As a storyteller, Murray has a sly wit and a willingness to look at both the pros and pitfalls of her otherworldly matriarchies. As with the first book, it all moves snappily, if at times a mite too quickly. And as an added bonus, the zaftig Sybil and her main squeeze Josu make for a sexy couple, continuing the size positive sub-theme of the first book without belaboring the point. In a time when even a presidential candidate finds it perfectly acceptable to fat bash, Murray’s worlds definitely provide a welcome respite.