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Dreamsnake

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  8,529 ratings  ·  433 reviews
In a far-future, post-holocaust Earth, a young healer named Snake travels the world, healing the sick and injured with her companion, the alien dreamsnake. But she is being pursued. . . .
Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Spectra Books (first published 1978)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,529 ratings  ·  433 reviews


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Sarah
May 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
While this book gets docked a point or two for the cheesy 70s cover and the title, it deserves a place among the classics of the genre. I first read the Nebula-winning novella "Of Mist, And Grass, And Sand," in middle school, but I never realized that McIntyre had expanded it to novel length. It's a thoughtful adventure, a quest led by a mature and confident heroine, Snake. I love her as a character: she knows who she is, she is good at what she does, and she is comfortable in her own skin. I al ...more
Mike Moore
May 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Look, I read a lot of science fiction. Enough that I would mention it. So I have a pretty high tolerance for silliness. This book overwhelmed my tolerance and left me staggered by the sheer nonsense of it all.

Welcome to a post-apocalyptic future where isolated communities blunder about in moral turpitude waiting for an oddly naive young woman to come straighten them out with good sense and her trusty snakes. You see, snakes are used as drug dispensers in the future, and the woman (who's also nam
...more
Wanda

The publisher says:

They called the healer Snake, and she bore the name proudly, for the medicine she distilled from the venom of the viper she carried with her was a potent cure; and the soothing power of her other companion, the alien dreamsnake, banished fear. But the primitive ignorance of those she served killed her dreamsnake and wrecked her career - for dreamsnakes were dreadfully rare, and Center would not grant her another. Snake's only hope was to find a new dreamsnake - and on her ques
...more
Wastrel
A very odd book by modern standards, but one that is strikingly of its era. Manages to do some things very badly (dialogue, most of the characterisation (the central character is solid and likeable but a Mary Sue and not all that distinctive, while the supporting cast are mostly two(or fewer)-dimensional and also somewhat MSish), a lot of the plot details), yet do others very well (descriptive prose; setting and its exploration, some of the emotional stuff).

Sort of like a less-good Ursula Le Gu
...more
Allison Hurd
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, fem-author
I was really pleasantly surprised by this! '70s scifi and I have a rather antagonistic relationship, so I was hoping to read the late great McIntyre, pay my respects, and retreat to safer grounds. But this was delightful! I mean, yes, it was still 70s-tastic, but in a fun way, not in a stabby way.

CONTENT WARNING (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics): (view spoiler)
...more
Andreas
Dreamsnake is the extension of the award winning novelette Of Mist, And Grass, And Sand and is set at the same time and planet Earth as The Exile Waiting.

It reads like a fantasy story like Tehanu for the first 50 pages before it becomes clear that it is a post-nuclear SF setting.
It follows a young, female healer called "Snake" within her probationary year. The eponymous Dreamsnakes are one of three kinds of snakes that healers in this setting use. They are irreplacable, because they rarely repr
...more
Dawn C
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved, media-storytel
Vonda N. McIntyre’s Star Trek novel The Entropy Effect has been one of my favorite novels since I was a teenager. I’ve read it twice and have wanted to read it again for a long time. I was luckily enough to have a conversation with her about it, Star Trek and writing in general on Twitter, just a couple of months before she passed away.

I also promised her I’d read other of her work and well, ms. McIntyre, I finally did, and I loved it.

She writes stories in a way that’s rare today, where the surf
...more
Nikki
Received to review via Netgalley

It’s been quite a while since I read this, and I remembered it fondly enough, so when it came up on Netgalley, I decided to request it and do a reread. I only gave it three stars the first time, which surprised me when I looked it up and saw the raft of awards it got: Nebula, Hugo, Tiptree nomination, National Book Award finalist… I remembered it being quite like The Steerswoman in the narrative style, in the capable heroine; I remembered that the background of th
...more
Andreea Daia
Quick and dirty reading notes and (i)relevant thoughts
(I read this novel a while ago, but I decided to go back and write a review, since is so little known. And what a pity that is. )

✐ This is a very different kind of science-fiction and I read that the author had trouble finding a publisher since most folks took it for fantasy. In fact Dreamsnake reads like a classic western, and it's only the brief details (mentions of genetic engineering, craters of atomic bombs, collapsed domes of alien sp
...more
Bradley
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was worried that I might have thought this early SF dystopia might have not held up so well after nearly 40 years of a never ending stream of them, but considering that I recently watched some early Mad Max films, I'm all good. We have to place these things in their time.

After all, where else are you going to get a surprisingly deep character and women's study dystopian future that includes aliens, nearly Bene Gesserit healers, the depths of adoption and justice, and a woman who embodies the s
...more
Mel
This book is classic seventies feminist sci-fi. It is also slow and meandering. It explores some interesting social issues. It is nothing special in my opinion, but it was a fun read.

I liked the main character. Her name was Snake and she used….yep…you guessed it…snakes to heal people. Scary snakes. Cobras and rattlers and snakes that I personally do not want anywhere near me. She was pretty tough and knew what she wanted. She had a few annoying moments, but was mostly a pretty good lead charact
...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-by-women
As with all post-apocalyptic books by women, this one has a wonderful gentle tone. Maybe it is because men always cause the destruction of the world. So their story must be a redemptive one. The stories by/about women are much more about healing and remembering.
Derek
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hugo, post-apocalyptic, sf
Having just finished the hugly disappointing The Vor Game in my quest to read all the Hugo winners, this was a welcome breath of fresh air.

It was controversial in its day (but probably not so much now), with its polyandrous and polygynous (why does my computer's dictionary accept the former, but not the latter?) family relationships, people who have sex for fun, and a female lead who enjoys male companionship but doesn't need it.

Apparently, it rubbed some readers the wrong way tha
...more
Megan Baxter
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it
My overall impression is that this in an interesting book, but I really want it to be the first in a series. The reason for that is because there are so many issues that are alluded to but not really explored. If there's a later book in which these aspects are more fully developed, then, cool, I liked this a lot. If not, well, then, there's a lot of promise that is just left to wither out on the blasted nuclear desert of this future Earth. (I presume Earth - it's suggested, but I suppose not exp ...more
Krazykiwi
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it

So hard to review a book that I loved so much as a teenager, and still read through rose-coloured glasses. And again with the crossover - although this reads very much like high fantasy, and that's what you'd probably think it was from the blurb, it's really a far-future post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

It's also super-typical seventies feminist fiction (for both the good and the bad that brings).

Snake, the protagonist, is a healer, using a curious mixture of what at first glance seems like shamanistic

...more
Punk
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Snake is a healer on her proving year, travelling the vaguely post-apocalyptic landscape (there's always a vague apocalypse) to treat illness and injury using the venom of her snakes, but when her dreamsnake is killed she must find a new source for the extremely rare creature or she will no longer be able to work as a healer.

This reads like an Anne McCaffrey book, except with more restraint. It's melodramatic -- the girl's name is Snake! only three other healers have ever been given that name!!
...more
Viv JM
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up.

Well, this was fun - in a slightly cheesy 1970s way :-)

Dreamsnake is set in a future post-apocalyptic landscape, but it reads more like fantasy. It was more hopeful and upbeat than most such tales, and I enjoyed that about it. I like snakes, and I liked that they were used in healing work in this story. And the key to breading the "dreamsnakes" was fascinating and delightful. I really couldn't buy the romance aspect of the story, though, it just felt too contrived.

I listen
...more
Sheila
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
4 stars--I really liked it.

This novel has a strange format. There's no real main story arc, but rather many smaller stories of Snake traveling, healing, and having adventures. This didn't bother me at all, since I liked Snake and enjoyed her wandering. The other characters were enjoyable as well. Despite being a very old-school SF novel, it still felt fresh to me.

My first McIntyre, but I hope to read others!
Spider the Doof Warrior
Does disability HAVE to equal death in so many books?
Christy
In Dreamsnake, Vonda McIntyre tells a captivating and moving story about a healer, Snake, and her quest to find a new dreamsnake after the death of her first, Grass. Along the way, she meets a man, adopts a young girl, travels great distances, and overcomes many hardships, physical and emotional. She proves herself to be honorable, strong, wise, and the kind of character a reader can really care about.

The relationship that develops between Snake and Melissa, the young girl she adopts, is deep a
...more
sologdin
Nutshell: oneiromancer replaces plot-significant serpent, then celebrates by screwing some wasteland mutants.

Has a piece of Tehanu insofar as key relationship in the story is female protagonist and adopted girl, who is a victim of a sexual offense.

Likewise has a piece of This Immortal, The Einstein Intersection, or A Canticle for Leibowitz to the extent that it is set in a nuclear wasteland, has some spacefarers or aliens, is contaminated by mutants, and follows a peregrinating protagonist. It’s
...more
Nikki
I wouldn't have read Dreamsnake without one of my groups on GR reading it, I think. It's not something I would've come across otherwise, but I'm glad I did. It reminded me, in tone, of The Steerswoman (Rosemary Kirstein), and like The Steerswoman, it has a mature female main character who gets done whatever needs to be got done in her field, without too much fear of outsiders.

I liked the world built up in glimpses, here: way post-apocalyptic event, a whole different sort of living... the hints o
...more
Princessjay
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Absorbing story set in a well-realized world. The tale of one lone woman travelling through a harsh land and cultures differentiated by different levels & awareness of technology.

I really appreciated how little info-dump exposition there is in this book. Everything arises from characters interacting with one another, a seemingly off-hand description here and there with no particular fanfare. These seem like genuine thoughts and actions from people who LIVE in their world, with entire lives'
...more
Bondama
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Vonda K. McIntyre's picture of a healer, who heals with snakes in a dystopian world. All I can say is that this will remain one of my most favorite book for the rest of my life. I spent so much in tears -- but they were good, honest tears, I was moved because the writing is exquisite.
Joshua Gross
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was a Vonda McIntyre fan before I read this book. Diana Gabaldon, at the beginning of one of the Outlander books, mentions Vonda McIntyre's book The Moon and the Sun and I decided to check it out. It was an amazing book about the court of Louis XIV at Versailles and a mermaid creature that is caught and brought there to live in one of the fountains. It was a wonderful book that I have already reviewed here. Recently, for my Young Adult Lit class, I saw we were reading a short story called Of M ...more
Michael Woods
As I re-read this novel, the House GOP is currently attempting to defund the Affordable Care Act - an action that, if they are successful, would restrict access to health care for millions of Americans. So, I can't help but think of the themes of this book in terms of the current political debate. The concerns McIntyre raises in this novel over thirty years ago - access to health care, the hoarding of important resources by a privileged few - remain as poignant today as they did then. It seems w ...more
G33z3r
This story feels more like a fantasy than science fiction, but it's actually a post-nuclear war story where society has returned to small agrarian villages and almost no relics remain of industrial technology. (Travel, for example, is by horse.)

Snake is a middle-aged woman who travels across these farmlands as a healer. In addition to some familiar medicines, including disinfectant and aspirin, she uses snakes as part of her art, milking various venoms. But the most important is the Dreamsnake,
...more
Geoff
I enjoyed this post-apocalyptic journey with Snake as she travels a dangerous desert in search of a new dreamsnake.

This book is certainly not for herpetophobics (fear of snakes) but I thought the Healer profession as presented in this book was very interesting. In our own world, snake venom is used to create antivenom but the slight twist McIntyre puts on this is great. It would have been great to learn a bit more about the healers and their science, but I could tell that isn't the type of book
...more
Ruth Anne Corbett
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is my favourite book of all time about to re-read again
Queen
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
While certainly dated, this book holds up fairly well.
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre 27 38 Jul 12, 2018 12:49AM  
Science Fiction &...: Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre (August 2017) 13 11 Aug 27, 2017 03:24PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre 44 55 Sep 10, 2015 06:55AM  
Science Fiction A...: Dreamsnake 52 48 Dec 10, 2014 12:52PM  

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Vonda Neel McIntyre was a U.S. science fiction author. She was one of the first successful graduates of the Clarion Science fiction writers workshop. She attended the workshop in 1970. By 1973 she had won her first Nebula Award, for the novelette "Of Mist, and Grass and Sand." This later became part of the novel Dreamsnake, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. The novelette and novel both co ...more
“They said everything outside killed, so I thought nothing did.” 2 likes
“How can I tell her to be glad she's alive, when she knows she'll never walk on the desert again, or find me a diamond for some patron's earring, never gentle another horse, never make love?"
"I don't know," Smoke said. "But if you and Alex see her life as a tragedy, that's what it will be.”
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