Fantasy/SF Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, October-November 2001
Archangel Protocol by Lyda MorehouseRoc, May, 2001
Paperback, 342 pages
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In the year 2075, Earth has changed quite a bit. The LINK is a sort of super-Internet which is accessed by a subcutaneous implant under the skin. Religion is very important in this society, but it is still a democracy. But anyone without a religious affiliation will find it hard to get a job, get credit or function easily in mainstream society. Deidre McMannus is an ex-cop who had her LINK access pulled because of her innocent involvement in a terrible crime; her partner Daniel Fitzpatrick assassinated the Pope. She was also excommunicated by the Catholic church. Off the force, Deidre has become a p.i., but life outside the LINK and outside society is almost impossible. A mysterious man called Michael hires her to investigate the phenomenon of Net Angels appearing to users on the LINK (with sometimes disastrous results). The Net Angels claim to be the real thing with a message from God, and a greedy politician is about to use this new power to convert the U. S. into a vicious, official theocracy.
Lyda Morehouse is a major new talent who has taken the cyberpunk subgenre and transformed it into something else entirely. Her description of a future society which turns its back on science after science nearly destroys everything is absolutely compelling, as are her characters. Just when you think you have all the plot twists figured out, Morehouse throws another kink into the mix. The book works equally well as a hardboiled detective story, even without the thought-provoking issues that she raises about the roles of technology, science and religion in the future of mankind.
Destiny by Elizabeth HaydonTor, August, 2001
Hardcover, 408 pages
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Destiny is the final book in Elizabeth Haydon's marvelous high fantasy trilogy which includes Rhapsody and Prophecy. In Destiny, the three companions, Rhapsody, Achmed, and Grunthor, continue their fight against the evil demon, the F'dor. The F'dor has taken over the body of a very important personage who is delicately maneuvering the entire world into a bloody war which will eventually destroy the earth. Now, Rhapsody and her companions must find and destroy each of the children of the F'dor (which he sired while in a body called the Rakshas), separating them from their demon half, and using the blood to track the mysterious F'dor. The host of the demon could be anyone, which considerably complicates their task. Rhapsody will be called upon to make incredible sacrifices in her life and to embrace the power that she has never really wanted.
There is certainly no time to get bored in this third book in this immensely entertaining trilogy; it is filled with non-stop action. The three characters have evolved considerably since the first book, and the plot twists and turns will keep you riveted to the pages. The writing is lyrical, and the atmosphere exciting and magical. Elizabeth Haydon ties up all the loose plot threads by the end of the book with an amazing surprise ending that sets the stage for other stories. Haydon's skills at world building are excellent, as is her imagination. This is an excellent series that any fantasy fan will treasure.
Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. HamiltonBerkley, October, 2001
Paperback, 482 pages
In this tenth entry in the Anita Blake vampire hunter series, the gloves are off -- there is enough graphic violence, steamy sex and dark atmosphere here for three books. Anita returns to St. Louis, after spending a celibate six months out of town. But her sabbatical has left her no closer to making a choice between her two lovers: the handsome vampire Jean Claude and Richard, a werewolf. When two of her wereleopards are kidnapped and being held at a dive known as Narcissus in Chains, Anita must rescue them. Anita is injured during the rescue, and may have been infected with lycanthropy. Not sure if she's going to turn into a wereleopard at the next full moon, Anita has also been infected by the ardeur -- the vampire's eternal hunger. Fighting both the ardeur and her love for two men, Anita must now find a mysterious person who seems to be murdering lycanthropes.
For lovers of the vampire mythos, the Anita Blake series is an absolute must-read. The books are set in our modern-day society, but with a twist: vampires, lycanthopes and the like really exist. They are second-class citizens in a way (the cops are certainly less worried about the murder of a werewolf than a human), but they also are a source of intense interest and attraction to some humans. Blake's world is so creepy precisely because it is so believable; perhaps it's her matter of fact style in describing the most arcane rituals and practices. But whatever it is, this is one compelling and erotic series that lovers of vampire stories will devour at one sitting.
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