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Book cover art by Tim Jacobus.
Review © 2001 by Thomas M. Wagner.

This novel is a briskly paced seriocomic intrigue and adventure yarn set in a typically Llewellynesque milieu in which poor barbaric humanity is being gently guided by an idealistically hyper-civilized (no war, and all that) higher alien intelligence. Yet this novel is written with a much lighter touch than most of Llewellyn's earlier books, some of which are dour and serious to a fault.

The alien Aulds have reluctantly connected Earth (after some of its inhabitants made an accidental discovery) to their galaxy-wide Transit system, a means of zipping back and forth between points in space/time instantaneously. An Auld investigator, Sala Sludic, appears on Earth and enlists the aid of the alien liaison to the UN to apprehend a young human woman named Ruth Thalia Adams, whom he has been chasing for literally millennia throughout the Transit. Thalia is the only non-Auld who can speak their language, and she has managed to flit through the supposedly infallibly guarded Transit to numerous worlds, collecting information threatening to the Auld while handily avoiding Sludic. However, Earth is something of a cul-de-sac on the Transit. The only place one can Transit to from Earth is Nuearth, a colony given us by the Auld so we won't feel so fenced in and backwater. Sludic believes he finally has Thalia cornered.

Thalia, meanwhile, is hiding on Earth, and has met a young classics student on an Aegean isle (how romantic is that?), who naturally falls in love with this mysterious femme fatale and finds himself gradually drawn into her predicament.

A well-crafted combination of humor and drama keeps the reader's attention, lending some moments of honest excitement to the story. The plot is not without its flaws. Though Thalia's explanation for the origins of her plight is convincing, I found it hard to believe that she could have been the only one to stumble across the Big Secret about the Transit that the Auld don't want anyone to know. Even if all of the worlds under the benign dominion of the Auld are as content as Llewellyn says, there will always be those incorrigible misfits. And with that many worlds, well, that's a lot of misfits.

But the key to the success of Fugitive in Transit is the fact that Llewellyn really seems to be spoofing himself. The bumbling, incompetent Auld are almost a parody of the exceedingly grave Ultrons in Llewellyn's Salvage and Destroy, and the overall light tone of this novel is something of a tonic for those familiar with the heavy hand Llewellyn used to write some of his earlier novels. And if you haven't read any Edward Llewellyn (and today, it's unlikely, considering he died the year before this book's publication and so you'd have to be an SF geek du jour to have even heard of him), you'll still find the novel a most enjoyable escape.