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Channeling Cleopatra
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Ace Books, 244 pages

Channeling Cleopatra
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough wrote the Nebula Award-winning novel The Healer's War. It drew on her experiences as a nurse in Vietnam. She has written the critically acclaimed Nothing Sacred, as well as numerous other novels including a trilogy with Anne McCaffrey. They are The Powers That Be, Power Lines and Power Play. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Bedtime Stories: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Lady of the Loch
SF Site Review: The Godmother's Web

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Victoria Strauss

Leda Hubbard's greatest ambition was to be an Egyptologist, but lack of opportunity and lack of finances conspired to keep her from that goal. Instead, she settled for forensic anthropology, working mostly for law enforcement agencies.

One day an anonymous gift arrives in her mailbox: an all-expenses-paid trip to the International Conference of Egyptologists. A little suspicious about her mysterious benefactor, Leda still can't resist going. The benefactor, it turns out, is Tsering, husband of Leda's old college buddy, Chime -- but Tsering isn't what he used to be. He is, in fact, two people: Chime (recently deceased) and Tsering in one body, their personalities blended through an experimental DNA exchange process of Chime/Tsering's own invention.

This new being, Chimera, makes Leda an offer she can't refuse: come to work for Nucore, the company that's sponsoring development of the process, on an archaeological dig in Alexandria. It's hoped the dig will yield remains belonging to Cleopatra VII -- famous figures from the past are in demand for blendings, and the wife of Nucore's CEO has dibs on the legendary queen. But though Nucore's intentions for the blending focus upon the pursuit of knowledge, there are others with a much less ethical interest. Leda soon finds herself caught up in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, from which she'll be lucky to escape with her life.

Fans of the humorous mysteries of Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters (to whom Scarborough pays tribute in the book) will relish this tale of intrigue, adventure, and (a little) romance. The concept of the blending does require some willing suspension of disbelief; and Scarborough doesn't dwell on the darker aspects of combining two minds in one body, choosing instead a lighter treatment of personality adjustment difficulties and the disparity between modern and ancient world views. But there's good fun here, with some suspenseful chases and moments of jeopardy, interesting archaeological details, deft characterizations (Duke, Leda's 72-year-old motorcycle-riding womanizing ex-cop dad, is especially engaging), and a nicely humorous tone throughout. It's also refreshing to encounter a heroine who's over 25, doesn't look like a supermodel, and manages by her wits. An enjoyable light read.

Copyright © 2002 Victoria Strauss

Victoria Strauss is a novelist, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel The Garden of the Stone is currently available from HarperCollins EOS. For details, visit her website.

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