Vonda McIntyre died in April, aged seventy.
In my mind, she’s still here because her books are still here and they are what I had of her.
I read “Dreamsnake” in 1980 and it formed the way I thought about Science Fiction. It stayed with me over the years as a favourite book. I still have the original paperback with this startling cover.
I listened to the audiobook version in 2014, after a gap of more than twenty years, and had my impressions of it a great book reconfirmed. I also saw more clearly how Vonda McIntyre declined to follow the male view of Science Fiction that had dominated the genre up to the 1980’s. In “Dreamsnake”, is 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 who uses venom as a cure, 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.
So I remember Vonda McIntyre today and many other days for the gift she gave my imagination when she wrote “Dreamsnake”.