Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Dreamsnake / Vonda McIntyre

4 out of 5 stars

They called the healer Snake, and she bore the name proudly, for the medicine she distilled from the venom of the viper she carried with her was a potent cure; and the soothing power of her other companion, the alien dreamsnake, banished fear. But the primitive ignorance of those she served killed her dreamsnake and wrecked her career - for dreamsnakes were dreadfully rare, and Center would not grant her another.  Snake's only hope was to find a new dreamsnake - and on her quest, she was pursued by two implacable followers, one driven by love, one by fear and need.

I enjoyed this short little tale of a healer trying to find her place in the world, making mistakes as we all do and struggling to find a way out of a bad situation.  Finding companionship, love and an adopted daughter.  A strong female main character, solving problems competently yet accepting help when it is offered.  A book which passes the Bechdel test with flying colours [there is more than one female character and they talk to each other about something besides men].

My only complaint was that it was too short—there were several interesting items which tickled my curiosity and made me wish that there was a sequel or that the original was a bit thicker, with more detail.  For example, how did Earth get to this post-apocalyptic state?  Who are the aliens who created the domes and brought the strange plants and dreamsnakes to Earth?  Have they stuck around or who exactly is in the intact city dome?  

In a world where there are still so many books in which the female characters are stiff as cardboard or stereotypical caricatures , this book from the 1970s really shines as a book where I felt real affection for Snake.  She is a realistic woman, with emotions and dilemmas that I can relate to.  I must read more of McIntyre’s work.

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