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The Annunciate
Severna Park
Avon Books, 294 pages

The Annunciate
Severna Park
Severna Park's first novel was Speaking Dreams, which was nominated for the Lambda Award. At the University of Maryland, she 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.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Speaking Dreams
sff.people.suze SFF Net Newsgroup for Severna Park
Lambda Award Winners

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas Myer

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This book is awesome.

As always, Severna Park smacks the conventions of space opera upside the head.

For starters: you've got a main character, Eve, involved in the manufacturer of Staze, a drug so potent that it addicts you on the first try. You also get this character's objet d'amour, a wild woman drug runner who is herself addicted to Staze (and, apparently, also quite the skilled lover). But it only gets better. Eve and her companions, Corey and Annmarie, are manufacturing Staze to get back at their enemies.

You see, they are Meshed, which means that they have nanobots inside their systems that can communicate with other nanobots spread throughout the solar system (a place called ThreeSys, with, you guessed it, three suns). They have (or at least had) instant access to any and all information about anything or anyone.

In an instant, a Meshed person could revoke the titles on your land, cause your weapon to jam, or any other highly amusing party trick.

The other denizens of ThreeSys are either Jacked or Jackless. The Jacked have implants on their bodies that allow them to access the web of information, which, although empowering, is not quite as powerful as the Mesh. The Jackless are at the proverbial bottom of the empowerment totem pole. For time without end, the Jacked and Jackless have been slaughtering each other, while the Meshed ruled.

That is, until the Jacked and Jackless got together, figured out how to exterminate the nanobots spread around ThreeSys (thus cutting the Meshed off from their power source), and started to kill off the Meshed.

So, you may ask, what the heck is this Staze? I've already mentioned that it addicts on the first try. Well, it also makes you completely passive. Staze addicts live half in this world and half in another peaceful pseudo-virtual world.

So instead of fighting your enemy, addict them and make them come to you for the rest of their existence for their drug. Dump it in their water. Put it in their food. The interminable wars would be over.

Now let's take it up a notch. It so happens that a new celestial body is entering ThreeSys, none other than the planet that the original settlers of ThreeSys had landed on (and which later had been blasted from the system).

This planet, called Paradise, brings a whole new metaphoric level to the novel (think Eve + Paradise = clever writing). If this were all, however, this book wouldn't be complete. No, Severna Park throws in a real threat: our three Meshed dope peddlers/revolutionaries discover a new lifeform on Paradise, which has used the surviving nanobots on the planet's surface (remember, these were never destroyed) to start inhabiting what's left of the Mesh. This creature is Kalima, and if you know your Hindu mythology, she is a voracious destroyer.

And worse, Kalima isn't content to live in the virtual world of Mesh, but wants an avatar, a physical being in the physical world.

So let's review: class struggle (Meshed/Jacked/Jackless), dope pushers and addicts, genocidal vendettas, feminist mythology given full expression, lesbian characters with depth, virtual reality, great sex, and all in under 300 pages. Woooo-hoooo!

Can this woman write, or what?

Copyright © 1999 by Thomas Myer

Thomas Myer has worked as a journalist, book editor, webmaster, and technical writer. He lives with his lovely wife and two dogs in the coolest city on earth, aka Austin, Texas. (Okay, maybe not so cool in the summer.)


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