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Promised Land
Connie Willis & Cynthia Felice
Ace Books, 362 pages


Art: David R. Darrow
Promised Land
Connie Willis
Connie Willis was born in 1945 in Denver, Colorado. Her first SF publication was "The Secret of Santa Titicaca" published in Worlds of Fantasy, the Winter 1970-71 issue. For her first novel, she collaborated with Cynthia Felice on Water Witch. She has won Hugo and Nebula Awards for Fire Watch, "The Last of the Winnebagos," Doomsday Book and "Even the Queen," a Hugo Award for "Death on the Nile," and Nebula Awards for "A Letter for the Clearys" and "At the Rialto." To Say Nothing of the Dog has won the Hugo for Best Novel.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Passage
SF Site Review: Miracle and Other Christmas Stories
SF Site Review: Nebula Awards 33
SF Site Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog
SF Site Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog
SF Site Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

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Imagine you are an intelligent, ambitious young woman, just graduated from university. You travel to a backwater planet in order to settle your deceased mother's affairs, hoping to collect your inheritance, and get away within 24 hours. When you arrive, the lawyer informs you that you were betrothed as a child and, under the laws of this dismal colony, you are now legally married to a hick farmer who is here to take you back to his remote rural hovel.

Would you: a) go with said hick husband in the faint hope of eventually collecting your inheritance and a divorce or b) run screaming for the nearest space shuttle, never to return?

Of course, if Delanna Milleflores had not stayed on Keramos there would be no Promised Land. But "unlikely" hardly begins to describe the premise of Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice's novel.

Welcome to Keramos -- planet Australian outback. Settlers live on remote lanzyes (farms) amid a vast arid landscape populated only by "semi-sentient" natives the settlers use for target practice. For reasons never convincingly explained these space-age people eschew airplanes and instead travel thousands of dangerous overland miles in solar-powered caravans, taking weeks and risking death. They also communicate via ham radio (not video or internet or holo). Well, heck, maybe it's a lifestyle choice.

Because this book was well written and moderately entertaining, I stuck with it, hoping for a payoff. I did not get it. There are no intriguing plot twists. The ultimate plot device, telegraphed all the way through second half of the book, came off ludicrously. The romance (yes, Delanna falls for her hick husband) was utterly predictable. And one more cute pet scene would have started me screaming.

If you're trying to convince a Harlequin Romance fan to switch genres, I suppose this might be a starter book, but otherwise AVOID.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at http://www.donna-mcmahon.com/.


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