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Flesh and Silver
Stephen L. Burns
Roc Books, 338 pages

Flesh and Silver
Stephen L. Burns
Stephen L. Burns is 45 and lives with his wife Sue-Ryn, a herbalist and perfumer. He claims that he looks more like someone who should be writing for an alternative music magazine. His short fiction has appeared in numerous places. His latest story "You May Already Be A Winner" is in the December 1999 Analog. His next novel, Call From A Distant Shore, is due to appear in August 2000.

Stephen L. Burns Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jeri Wright

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When the program first starts, Bergmann Surgeons are considered the elite of the medical profession. Using abilities that seem more magic than science, they can use the power of their brains to reach into the human body and heal with a precision surgical tools cannot come close to matching. They can literally perform miracles, but the miracles have a price; they gave up hands for replacements of silver, and with their hands they gave up part of themselves. Before long, they are considered survivors of a failed experiment.

Viewed with increasing suspicion and repugnance by both peers and patients, they become more and more isolated, travelling from special case to special case. Dr. Gregory Marchey was one of the first of the Bergmann Surgeons, and he still does his duty, hiding his regret at the loss of human contact by dulling his senses with alcohol. His long withdrawal from life ends when he is kidnapped by an "angel" in a power suit. She takes him to Ananke, a ruined world ruled by a psychopath and inhabited by the people he keeps as slaves. Marchey has been brought here to heal this monster, and his oath may force him to do so, even as his soul cries out against it. Trapped in what seems to be an impossible situation, Marchey finds a clue that may lead not only to his own salvation, but to that of all the Bergmann Surgeons.

I liked Marchey's relationship with his "angel," and I liked the way they both find themselves in the course of the adventure. The idea behind the Bergmann Surgeons is intriguing, and seeing Marchey come into his own is satisfying. It becomes clear that Marchey's isolation -- and that of the other Bergmann surgeons -- was contrived, and the tension builds as Marchey untangles a web of political intrigue and deceit.

A good mixture of ideas, characterization, and action, Flesh and Silver is a promising first novel. It kept me interested, and kept me turning pages. A most enjoyable read.

Copyright © 1999 Jeri Wright

Jeri is a voracious reader who believes that paradise could well be a quiet afternoon, unlimited chocolate, and a novel to lose herself in. She reads and reviews all types of fiction, and enjoys sharing her life long passion for books with like-minded readers.


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