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Mnemosyne's Kiss
Peter J. Evans
Virgin Worlds, 380 pages

Mnemosyne's Kiss
Peter J. Evans
Mnemosyne's Kiss is Peter J. Evans's first novel.

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A review by Donna McMahon

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Mnemosyne's Kiss reminded me a great deal of a William Gibson novel, although my Gibsophile sweetie informed me archly that Gibson is a far better writer. Well, OK, Gibson is a better stylist than Peter J. Evans, but there is certainly a lot of similarity in their techs-and-drugs, balletically violent future underworlds.

The novel opens as Cassandra Lannigan wakes up in a Nairobi hospital and realizes that she's extremely lucky. Two months ago, doctors tell her, somebody put a bullet through the back of her head and only the miracles of medical nanotech saved her. Unfortunately, science could not entirely rebuild her damaged brain. Cassandra cannot remember who she is, what she was doing in Nairobi or why assassins are still trying to kill her.

This is a good opening to a book that is far too long. On page 21, Cassandra checks out of hospital, and a chase ensues for the next 360 pages. And eventually, as Cassandra races around the globe through assassinations, beatings, shoot-outs, guerrilla hostage-takings and even a corporate sponsored civil war in Mexico, the astute reader may begin to notice that not much else is happening, such as character or plot development.

Right at the point where the corporate war robots were blowing away nuns, women and children hiding in a cathedral, and our heart-warming protagonist paused for brief regretful thought about the carnage before hurrying off to slaughter some more assassins, I began wondering why I was reading this book. But I got stubborn. Having invested over 200 pages (and admittedly facing a column deadline), I decided to see if a plot would ever be unveiled that would pull this mess together.

And somewhat to my surprise, there was. Evans' conclusion is clever, dramatic (and -- of course -- extremely gory), with a very nice plot twist right at the end.

I would have liked this book a great deal more if it had been shorter, less violent, and featured protagonists who I didn't feel like scraping off my shoe. However, Evans is a slick writer, and he sprinkles his megacorp-dominated globe with lots of nifty future tech details, most of which come across effectively. Fans of Bladerunner, Neuromancer and Alien 2 will probably get off on this, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it turn up as a movie some day.

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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