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Dreamsnake (Pan science fiction) [Paperback]

Vonda N. McIntyre
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Oct 1979 Pan science fiction
First published in 1978, this book won both the Nebula and Hugo awards and is set in a future world devastated by nuclear war. The author has also written "Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn".
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; New edition edition (12 Oct 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033025863X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330258630
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McIntyre's masterpiece 1 May 2003
I love this book. I've read and re-read it over the years and my one problem is that there is no real sequel. Set in a far-distant, post-holocaust earth, Dreamsnake is the story of a strong woman, Snake who is a healer. Using modified snake venom she can cure a multitude of ills including cancer. Her rare dreamsnake (her alternative anasthetic) is accidentally killed and she sets off to report it's loss to the senior healers. Her adventures along the way give one of the best stories I've read for a long time.
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This novel won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus SF Awards for its year, and it's easy to understand why.

Snake is from a tribe of healers who grow up learning how to alter the chemistry of venom in live snakes to heal different illnesses and injuries. Healers are solitary and nomadic souls who spend their lives in altruistic service to others, travelling through damaged and dangerous terrain on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

As the story opens, Snake has been asked by a highly superstitious and fearful people to heal a young child who is terribly ill. Perhaps due to innocence and inexperience, she is too trusting that they will adhere to her instructions. She leaves with the child overnight her precious dreamsnake, the venom and presence of which provides pain relief and the ease of sleep to ill patients, while she is off preparing the venom of another of her serpents for the healing session to come, with the assistance of one of the young men of the village. Her trust is ill-founded; she returns to find that the child's adult relatives have mortally-wounded her dreamsnake out of their fear it would harm the child, and she is forced to euthanise the rare dreamsnake which is required to practice her vocation.

Despite this and her personal grief over the loss of her reptile assistant, she manages to pull the child out of danger. But bereft of one of her treasured reptile companions, she is torn between returning to the tribe of healers and admitting what will surely be perceived as the criminal loss of one of the vitally-important dreamsnakes which are almost impossible to breed or clone -- and therefore irreplaceable -- or putting off the inevitable disgrace by travelling further to offer healing assistance elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reprint this book please. 27 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read this book over ten years ago and the story has stayed with me. It is after the big nuclear war, people either as is small communities, towns or in private protected environments. Snake is a healer travelling to with her snakes curing people until her precious dreamsnake is killed. She must find the secret of the dreamsnakes to carry on her work. This book is beautifully written and captured my imagine. I just love it and was devasted when the library got rid of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, so when I saw a copy, I snapped it up. I was mildly disappointed, although it's very readable.
In a world devastated by nuclear holocaust, leaving vast blackened deserts, what's left of humanity has returned to a pastoral way of life. It is the duty of the travelling healers, who are held in very high regard, to give medical help where required. This book is the story of one such healer, who uses snakes to bring healing (an interesting concept).
Two of the snakes she uses are from earth, but the other one is extraterrestrial - the dreamsnake. These dreamsnakes are precious and rare. No-one knows how they reproduce. Many healers have begged the inhabitants of Center City for more dreamsnakes - always without success. The book turns into an adventure story, with our central character undertaking a dangerous journey to Center City to ask for help. But how can she succeed, when all others have failed?
It is certainly a bold and vivid book, but I personally didn't think it was quite as good as it's been made out to be. Nonetheless it's well worth reading if you like SF or just a good adventure tale.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 19 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Here is a fantasy book for all those who are sincerely tired and bored of the macho mainstream. It is beautifully written and I could not stop reading it until the end.
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