RogerBW's Blog

The Exile Waiting, Vonda N. McIntyre 18 July 2018

1975 science fiction, broadly in the same universe as Dreamsnake. In the last city on a post-apocalyptic earth, Mischa the thief is trying to get passage off-world for herself and her brother before their telepathic talents doom them both.

This was McIntyre's first novel, and it shows; the influence of Andre Norton in particular is very obvious at times. There's a great deal going on here, with palace coups and space raiders and post-apocalyptic mutants and drugs and synthetic twins and decadence and telepathy and faginy; it has that first-novel feeling of having to get everything down on the page in case the opportunity doesn't come again.

As a result, the first chapters are fairly murky even to an experienced SF reader, and there are so many things happening that each of them individually doesn't get much time on the page. One overall theme of how slavery works on the mind is well developed, certainly, but we have N K Jemisin now.

The bad guys are bad because they drew a card with "Villain" printed on it. The good guys are all Tortured. But everything could have done with more development… and everything had got it, this might have been a great fat book, the Dune of the seventies. As it is, it's a sketchy outline and even then it gets wearing at times.

But it's really fascinating to see the early McIntyre, and I'm glad I read it. I'm just unlikely to read it again.

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