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Speaking Stones
Stephen Leigh
Avon EOS Books, 330 pages

Speaking Stones
Stephen Leigh
Stephen Leigh works as Sales Manager for Kelly Services in Cincinnati where he lives with his wife Denise and their two children. In his spare time, he studies the martial art aikido, reads mostly non-fiction for book research and plays music.

Stephen Leigh Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jeri Wright

A century after Anais Koda-Levin (Dark Water's Embrace) recognizes her destiny as the first human Sa, most of the human colony on Mictlan have adapted to the reality of the third sex serving as an evolutionary "stabilizer". Now the humans share the world with the native Miccail, who were also transformed by Anais Koda-Levin and the return of the Sa. The Sa, or midmale, are an answer to low fertility and birth defects on a world where wild mutations make survival precarious.

But at least one of the Families does not approve of the Sa, seeing them as a perversion. Many humans also do not trust the Miccail, considering them dangerous animals. An uneasy truce is endangered when a human child is kidnapped and the Family blame the QualiKa, a group of natives who oppose what they see as the humans' conquest of their land. One act of violence sparks another, and both sides face a war of annihilation. Only the Sa, both human and Miccail, with a history of working together for understanding, offer hope of any alternative to destruction.

The world and the society created here are both fully realized. I was fascinated by the implications of the Sa and by how both the Sa and the other differences inherent in an alien world would affect the human colonists. The Miccail were a bit harder to understand, yet in some ways they were almost too human in thought and character.

Speaking Stones is an ambitious novel. Quotes at the beginning of sections make a direct, and appropriate, parallel with a long human history of prejudice and racial conflict. The story is told in many voices, including journal entries, and it works surprisingly well. I say surprisingly because I rarely enjoy books with so many different points of view, but Leigh makes it work, and work well. I was curious, I was interested, and I was moved, though I see Speaking Stones as more of a "thinking" story than a "feeling" story. I find myself really wanting to know where the colony will be in, say, another hundred years.

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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