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The Forever Drug, Shadowrun, Book 37
Lisa Smedman
Roc Books, 271 pages

Peter Peebles
The Forever Drug
Lisa Smedman
Lisa Smedman has written other Shadowrun novels. They include:
Shadowrun 23: Lucifer Deck,
Shadowrun 29: Blood Sport
Shadowrun 33: Psychotrope.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

To call The Forever Drug a "werewolf book" isn't giving readers an accurate mental image. Werewolves are cursed with this nightmare of shape-shifting and spend their miserable lives bemoaning their tragic fate. Right? That doesn't come close to describing the life of Romulus, free agent for the Magical Task Force of Halifax and wolf-to-man shape-shifter. 

Running around in wolf-form is the least of his worries.

Life on Earth in the latter half of the 21st century is a far cry from our present. With the reappearance of magic into the world in 2011, things began to get mighty strange. Elves, dwarves, paranormal animals -- you name it, they've got it.

That doesn't mean that everyday's a holiday for Romulus, though. In every society, there's going to be at least one segment that gets kicked around. In the world of Shadowrun, that miserable lot falls to the shape-shifters. Romulus would be more than happy to spend most of his time as a wolf (he was born to it, after all), but his kind are barely tolerated, forget anything as far-fetched as equality. Well, when your only long-term girlfriend is a dog -- no, really, she's a German Shepherd -- people will start to talk.

Prejudice isn't going to stop people from using Romulus' unique talents. On this case, his hyper-sensitive sense of smell is in demand. Someone is smuggling a dangerous drug into the area and it is up to Romulus and his partner Dass to track them down. And to figure out the connection between the smugglers and an amnesiac who Romulus has fallen for in a big way.

That's one of the most interesting aspects of The Forever Drug: even Romulus' feelings take on a somewhat canine aspect. His affection for the young woman is immediate and unconditional. Who but your faithful, protective pooch has ever loved you that way? For more than a week?

Man or man's best friend, Romulus is a personable, captivating character. Following him around on his investigations and permutations is pure entertainment. You know how sometimes you sit there and try to pin down exactly why you are smiling? You're having fun. Flat-out, not so simple fun. Through danger, close calls, and condescension, every page is a howl. (Forgive me for that one, please.) Don't be surprised if this is a no-show for the major awards, but some of the most amusing books aren't critical favourites.

The universe of Shadowrun is one of the better inventions of the last few decades. A strange, unpredictable existence where virtually anything is possible and magic -- good and bad -- fills the air. And here's a big plus to this series: if you find you like it, there are dozens of novels, by almost as many authors, to slake your thirst.

All right, I never quite understood the significance of the name of the drug -- Oh! I get it now. You'll figure it out, and if you don't, I don't think that's going to impair your enjoyment.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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