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Changer by Jane LindskoldEos, December 1998.
Paperback, 498 pages.
In modern day New Mexico, immortals walk the Earth, but hide from the human world. Known by many names throughout the years, King Arthur still rules the Athanor, a group of immortals, some of whom are shapeshifters. The greatest of these is the Changer. Unpredictable and wild, the Changer takes human form and allies himself with Arthur and company when his family is murdered. (Only his young daughter, a coyote pup, survived.) While searching for the killer, Arthur and the Changer encounter another problem -- many of the Athanor, such as the yeti (Abominable Snowman), fauns and other non-shapeshifting creatures are tired of being in hiding and want to tell the world of their presence. As Arthur strives to keep order in his kingdom, and the Changer searches for his enemy, dark forces are plotting to destroy the very Harmony of the Athanor. The Changer will have to assume many shapes and disguises to find a killer, and to help save the Athanor's very existence.
Changer is a remarkable work of urban fantasy. Lindskold skillfully weaves myth, legend and the modern world into a complex story which intrigues and enchants. From the rainforests of Brazil to the depths of Poseidon's ocean, the story shows a magical side of our world which exists side by side with the mundane, everyday world. With sly humor, daring adventure and a wonderful cast of characters, this is one novel you won't be able to put down. Highly recommended.
Mission Child by Maureen F. McHughEos, December 1998.
Hardcover, 385 pages.
On a planet colonized by Earthers long ago and forgotten until recently, Janna lives in the northern, icy plains with her tribe until they are killed in a dispute. Before the attack, one of the missionaries gives Janna three gifts of technology which will help her survive on her long trek to find other relatives in another tribe. The book follows Janna's life as she journeys across the planet, experiencing hardship, love, loss, death and even a spiritual gender change as she disguises herself as a boy to escape being attacked.
For humanist SF, Maureen McHugh is without equal. Her novels are character-based, and explore themes of gender, love, loss and the conflict between the technological and the primitive ways of life. Essentially a character study, Mission Child is an in-depth study of the young woman Janna and her journeys, both physical, emotional and spiritual, and how she is affected by the strange people and places she meets along the way. The character of the cross-dressing shaman is especially entertaining. Although at times, one wishes that Janna would show a little more emotion, it is the nature of her people to be stoic. Devotees of intellectual and character-driven SF will enjoy this book.
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