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Dreamsnake cover art

Dreamsnake

By: Vonda N. McIntyre
Narrated by: Anna Fields
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Summary

A New York Times best seller and winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, Dreamsnake is the haunting, critically acclaimed novel of an extraordinary woman and her dangerous quest to reclaim her healing powers.

When the healer Snake was summoned, she traveled the blasted landscape with her three serpents. From the venom of two of them, she distilled her medicines. But most valued of all was the alien dreamsnake, whose bite could ease the fear and pain of death.

When the dreamsnake is killed, Snake's powers as a healer are all but lost. Her only hope of finding another dreamsnake lies in a treacherous journey to the far-off Center City, where Snake will be pursued by two implacable followers: one driven mad by love, the other by fear and need.

©1978 Vonda N. McIntyre (P)1999 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Anna Fields narrates with her usual mastery of the nuances of plot, mood, and character.... Fields adds to the haunting sense of reality and possibility that underlies the events set forth." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Dreamsnake

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Contemplative and soothing

I loved spending time with these characters. The narrator was so soothing as well. The author managed to create a living, breathing world in such a short book. Genuinely sad it was over so soon.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A blast from the past

I read this book for the first time in the early eighties and it had stayed pretty bright in my memory since then. No summer was complete without a giant pile of bright yellow Gollancz SciFi books from the library. The audiobook was a very pleasant re-visit. The performance is good and not intrusive. I like to be absorbed by the story and not overly aware of the narrator. The story has dated in places, and some of the experiences described in relation to younger characters are very difficult, but I would still say that it is very much worth a listen.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved the paperback, love the audiobook.

Very much enjoyed. Narrator was perfect in my eyes (or ears) and I had high standards as this is my favourite scifi book.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Took a chance, was rewarded

Great narrator, interesting ideas and we'll paced. Worth a listen if you like fantasy.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Profoundly interesting

A very interesting story, a dystopian world. A different type of heroine... a healer and unusual healing methods, not magical but scientific but remarkably unique take.
Such creativity

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good but it Lost me a Little Towards the End

Pretty much what I said in the title. I did enjoy this book overall, the narration was incredibly good as was the plot and characters. Unfortunately, I can't quite put my finger on why but it did start to loose me towards the end of the book and the ending did feel a little abrupt, I felt like maybe it could have done with a couple more paragraphs.
Don't let that dissuade you though, it is still an entertaining listen.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good world building

I could be persuaded to go to 3.5 stars for this one.

I particularly liked the premise of the universe, and the world building, how the setting was introduced element by element.

Most of the book felt like a fantasy 'diary of a country doctor' and I really didn't like the romance element in it.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Classic SF that's still fresh 30 year on

The 1980 Pan Edition of "Dreamsnake" snagged my attention because the graphics were original and intriguing and winning the Hugo AND the Nebula awards placed it alongside "Dune ", "The Left Hand of Darkness", "Ringworld " and "The Dispossessed " all by authors I knew well. Yet I had never heard of Vonda McIntyre.

I bought the book, was hooked from the first scene, read it compulsively for the next few days and have carried it with me from house to house ever since.

When I came across the audiobook version (with a much less inspired cover), I decided to find out whether the book was impressive because it was of its time or whether it was simply a good book.

The audiobook itself must have been pioneering as it was recorded by Blackstone Audio in 1999. You can hear its age from time to time in the sound quality but Anna Fields' talent as a narrator more than makes up for that.

I'm happy to say that "Dreamsnake" is just as good now as I remember it being then.

Even on the first read, I was aware of how deftly Vonda McIntyre tells her tale. She builds a complete view of a complex world, not by using info-dumps/quotes from historic chronicles, but by showing what people take for granted and what they question.

Back then I was also impressed by the liberal sexual mores of societies that embraced, polyamory and required adults to have control over their own reproductive capabilities. These were radical ideas back then but "Dreamsnake" neither sensationalises them nor pushes them as dogma.

On a second read, I became aware that Vonda McIntyre had done something truly remarkable that I didn't notice the first time around: she has written an exciting adventure that calls for bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of physical danger but where problems are never resolved through violence.

The strongest themes in this book are freedom, responsibility, and mutual obligation. Yet the book also reads as a quest-based adventure.

"Snake", the Healer in the book, remains one of my favourite characters in Science Fiction. She is honest, brave, determined to help others but not superhuman. She is prone to anger, guilty of arrogance from time to time and often endangers herself and others because of a fundamentally naive world-view. Yet she is the kind of person who will always inspire fierce loyalty without ever seeking to do so.

"Dreamsnake" is a short book by modern SF standards. On the re-read I was aware of how much more I wanted to know about this world and the people in it. There is enough here to power at least a trilogy. "Dreamsnake" was actually built on a short story "Of Mist and Grass and Sand" which perhaps explains its compact power and there were no sequels.

If you are an SF fan, you should count "Dreamsnake" as part of the cannon.

If you're not sure if SF is for you, give "Dreamsnake" a try and see if Snake and her serpents can win your heart the way they did mine.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Dreamsnake

I've had this book as a favourite since I read it way back when it was first published. This Audiobook version is enhanced by the sympathetic reading and is a great rendition, allowing the characters a vocalisation they richly deserve. The story as always evokes a great sense of a world radically changed and varied from our own, which the narrator helps to project to the listener. Many Thanks.

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1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beloved classic

A lovely narration of a classic. Each character is well presented. I got through this in 2 days.

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