by L. Sprague de Camp



263pp/$4.99/May 1990

The Undesired Princess
Cover by Gary Ruddell
Reviewed by Steven H Silver

A recurring theme in L. Sprague de Camp's novels is the juxtaposition of different types of logic and rationality. In The Undesired Princess, de Camp returns to this theme by placing his hero, the Rollin Hobart, into a world based on strict Aristotelian logic. This is a binary world where things are or are not, with no shades of gray. At first glance, de Camp seems to be saying that a person who can see shades of gray is superior to the Logaians with their binary world view.
The Logaians' personalities are set at birth by their fairy godmothers, who give them personality traits from which they can't deviate, even when they see it is in their best interest. As the novel progresses, it becomes apparent that for all his flexibility, Hobart is also a slave to his personality. Despite his desire for nothing more than to return to the New York of his birth, he finds he must listen to his conscience and try to rescue Logaia from a threatened barbarian invasion.
de Camp posits worlds which are unitary, binary and trinary in The Undesired Princess, our own world falling into the last category. By implication, there must also be worlds which are based on even more complex logical systems, although de Camp does not explore those worlds or how their denizens would fare in our own world.
Even after Hobart begins to understand the differences between his own world and Logaia, he is unable to fully come to terms with their basic logic. de Camp seems to be pointing out limitations to more complex logical systems, even as he notes that they can be effective when faced with a less mature logic.
The plot of The Undesired Princess is simple, almost simplistic. Even the philosophy, as presented, is rather basic. However, the ideas behind that philosophy, which de Camp explains well enough for the reader to understand what de Camp is trying to do and follow their own conclusions regarding how it should be interpreted, is quite complex.
The Undesired Princess covers many of the themes which de Camp & Fletcher Pratt explored in the "Compleat Enchanter" series. Although these topics are not covered as well or as completely in The Undesired Princess, the book is still enjoyable and a worthwhile read.

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