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Speaking Dreams
Severna Park
Avon Books, 258 pages

Speaking Dreams
Severna Park
At the University of Maryland, Severna Park is a regular lecturer and reader for the Women in Science Fiction program and has written articles for the their Science Fiction and Fantasy Feminist Newsletter. She is a regular writer for the magazine, Tangent. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Avon Books
Sample Chapter
Lambda Award winners
sff.people.suze SFF Net Newsgroup for Severna Park

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas Myer

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Nominated for the Lambda Award following its 1992 appearance in trade paperback, Severna Park's first novel is set in a violent universe. The Emirate empire is slowly giving way before the ruthless Faraqui slavers and the mysterious Remiene. Mira, a troubled Emirate diplomat, is forced into acquiring a slave, an event which brings far more than just civilized revulsion into her life. For Costa, a female breeder, has disturbing visions that may well hold the key to overthrowing the domination of her people. As interstellar war looms and Mira and Costa confront the events foretold in Costa's dreams -- and a common enemy -- a fledging love between slave and master begins to develop.

Speaking Dreams guides us on a romp through contradictions that make the mind twist and retwist to fit Park's dynamic containers:
the claustrophobia of a grim slave camp versus the outer reaches of deep space;
a delicate love affair between two loving women versus brutal eugenic breeding of humans;
an imminent war with human-devouring aliens versus quiet moments in snow-heaped forests;
the advanced technology of a galaxy-flung body politic versus the persistence of the mundane, like long bows and paper.

With Faraqui slavers making deals with aliens to regain lost territory, Emirate forces both opposing and self-consciously bolstered by slaving (in social and economical realms), and aliens with their own agendas, this novel is certainly not lacking intrigue.

If this weren't enough, Park mixes a prescient protagonist into the soup, and manages to do so without spoiling the end. For this, I was grateful. I was also grateful for her dead-on prose, the gems that make a reading experience worth more than the cover price. For instance:

The sky was cloudless, a sharp, almost cutting blue, and it fit precisely over the little hills like a glass bowl.

Magnificent.

One caveat: propeller-heads will have to look elsewhere for their techno-jones. Very few details about FTL, transporter disks, or exotic weaponry exists in this ambitious first novel--the characters live in a world of advanced technology, but are mostly clueless as to this technology's inner workings. Although this breaks any number of "rules" of science fiction, it keeps the prose slick and fast, like a purposeful shark. (Besides, how many of us in the late twentieth century know every single working behind our automobiles and microwave ovens? Didn't think so.)

This strategy of steering clear of the technobabble slams home when Mira, the lifelong diplomat, watches with awe as Costa, her lover and slave, builds a fire in a snowbank. It serves as a sober reminder about how much we truly forget--about ourselves, about essential life skills, and about others--as we plow into the wide, dangerous, and sometimes unrewarding future.

Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Myer

Thomas Myer is a technical writer and freelance scoundrel. When he's not reading or writing, his family (wife Hope, and dogs Kafka and Vladimir) makes him mow the lawn and scrub floors. He also happens to be an excellent scratch cook.


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