Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre

The story happens in a postnuclearwar world. The main character is a healer who is able to heal sicknesses by snakes which are genetically modified to produce vaccinations and medications. In the beginning one of her snakes, a very rare and important dreamsnake, is killed by mistake. Rest of the book describes her quest to get back to healers home station, or find a new dreamsnake for herself. The book is well written and interesting, but it is combined from a few separate novellas, and the seams are showing in a couple of places. There were a few things which were considered commonplace from the middle part of the book onwards, but there were not even a slightest hint of them in the first part of the book. Especially it was pretty surprising when everyone suddenly acquired a mental ability for birth control. That was supposed to be very commonplace, something everyone is capable of, but there were not a slightest hint of that in the first half of book. Also, the importance of dream snakes was never really explained. They were supposed to be able to function as perfect pain killers, but apparently with no other abilities. But they are supposed to be so important that healers simply can’t function without them at all, and the limited supply of the dreamsnakes is supposed to be reason why healers are rare. But Snake, the heroine, works perfectly well as a healer for most of the book, while she is spending a lot of time and energy accusing herself for the loss of her dreamsnake. And with perfectly good reason: if the snakes really were so irreplaceable, she was unbelievable careless with her snake before she lost it.

I really can’t understand why the dream snakes are considered so important, there is no reason why medications should not work as painkillers as well as the dream snake venom. I waited that by the end of book she would realize that the dream snakes are not necessary after all - and that would have been the point of the book - but that didn’t happen. The ending was a slight disappointment because of that. Despite all the criticism I have, I enjoyed the book, but it might have been a bit better with some rewriting to remove the seams between the separate stories. ****-

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