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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Exile Waiting

Copyright 1975 by Vonda N. McIntyre

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point    Superb (5/5)

I first read this in 1978 and most recently in December 1997

In the far future, Earth is largely forgotten by the colonies, abandoned when its resources were exhausted. Most of its surviving population live in "Center", the last great underground city. Hereditary rulers wield absolute power over not only their slaves but the entire population, controlling even the air they breathe.

Jan Hikaru has travelled to Earth via a circuitous route, finally arriving on a pirate spaceship whose occupants plan to take over this remaining Earth city.

In the city itself, the teenage Mischa survives as a thief, plotting her eventual escape but currently held in thrall by emotional and telepathic ties to her ruined family.

In the Palace, Madame has managed in her life as a slave to find some precarious measure of balance and self-respect.

But the events triggered when the ship arrives will change all this.

I hope you were one of the lucky few that have read this excellent book, McIntyre's first novel. I think it's been out of print for many years. Her book "Dreamsnake" was rated more highly, winning a Hugo award in 1979, though I fail to understand why - it was enjoyable, but hardly a masterpiece like this. This enthralled and moved me when I first read it back in '78 and it moves me still.

The characters are so believable - the initially-uncomprehending interplay of Madame and Subone is excellent. And what an entrance Subone and Subtwo, the pseudo-sib leaders of the space-raiders, make to the world of Center! McIntyre has written a tightly-plotted, thrilling novel. Sure the characters wander around somewhat - especially during flight of Mischa and Jan through the underworld, but they don't wander around meaninglessly or pointlessly. The threads of the plot get nicely tied-up at the end, and I always, when I finish reading this book, sit back with a satisfied sigh.

Loaded on the 23rd August 2001.
Cover of The Exile Waiting

Reviews of other works by Vonda N. McIntyre: