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The Exile Waiting

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  373 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The time is the distant future. Earth has been rendered uninhabitable for much of the year by terrible storms during which its only city, Center, constructed around a natural cave system, is sealed from the outside.

Mischa, a young thief whose capabilities are enhanced by hereditary mutation, is trying to escape with her drug-addicted brother from the dominance
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published June 12th 1976 by Gollancz (first published 1975)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  373 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love how Vonda McIntyre writes. 'Dreamsnake' was one of my favorite books as a young teenager, but my local library didn't have all of her books, so I still have some to read!

I really liked 'The Exile Waiting,' but at the same time, I think I would have liked it even more if I had read it back in the early '80s.

It's got tons of cool stuff in it:

A wealthy, half-Japanese heir from a luxury planet, escaping a troubled relationship with his father, hitches a ride with a pa
Pam Baddeley
Set on the same post-apocalypse Earth as the author's novel Dreamsnake, this takes the reader inside the closed community of Center which was briefly encountered in that other novel (which I think was published after this one, but I've read them out of order). Center is the only technological society left on the planet and is the port of call for starships from the Sphere - the colonised worlds which have left Earth behind as a ruined backwater apart from traders who come to sell goods which cannot be obta ...more
The Captain
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ahoy there mateys! I was first introduced to this author when I read her Nebula award-winning novel, the moon and the sun. That one is set in the court of Louis XIV and deals with sea monsters. Awesome. Read long ago, that novel always made me want to read her other works.

This novel was her first and is a sci-fi published in 1975. It was rather annoying to get a hold of because it seems to be out of print. But I persevered and read it. Despite some silly seeming scientific facts, it
Isabel (kittiwake)
Light-tubes spread across the ceiling like the gills of a mushroom. The instantaneous impression was one of chaos, of tiny gray projections climbing each other to reach the ceiling, spotted here and there with color or movement. Mischa knew the city well enough to see the underlying order: five parallel spiral ramps leading up the walls at a low pitch, giving access to the stacked dwellings. The helices were almost obliterated by years of building-over, use, and neglect. The walls of the cavern, ...more
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Disorienting and blurry, the subterranean world of Vonda McIntyre’s The Exile Waiting (1975) hosts a confusion of social structures that aren’t easily deciphered. The first few chapters are especially complicated as the first act winds its way through a series of tunnels and bends and broken thoughts as Mischa resists Gemmi’s empathic tugs, rescues a self-destructive Chris, and observes the so-called normalcy of this alien place called Center. Disjointed journal excerpts by an outsider named Jan ...more
Jan Priddy
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Though they can be read completely independently, this is somewhat of a companion to Dreamsnake—the story of the underground City, while Dreamsnake is about the surface nomads in an apocalyptic future. This is from the classic period of pre- or post- or occurring apocalypse.
Aricia Gavriel
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This one was originally published in 1975, and the copy I own is the 1985 reprint, bought off a sale table in the mall. It's been on the shelf for over three decades (!) but only in very recent years have I had the chance to read again. (I'm currently devouring over a hundred thousand words a week ... after years of not having the time to read more than a page or two on a little ebook reader, usually jolting around on the bus to and from work.)

What a marvelous storyline The Exile Wai
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In a recent exchange on Twitter with a friend, he wondered why McIntyre, a feminist sf writer and multi-award winner, was not as well known as Joanna Russ. McIntyre wrote a number of Star Trek tie-in novels, and so may have become associated with that rather than straight-up sf… Although a look at her bibliography on shows she wrote only 5 Trek novels (including novelizations of films II, III and IV), one SWEU novel, and, er, ten genre novels that aren’t tie-ins. The first of which was ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I was recently gifted four Vonda McIntyre books by someone who had been acquainted with her; this was the first chronologically, so I started here. This one wasn't the sort of book I'd choose on my own, with tones that felt pulpy, slightly YA (I wouldn't classify it as YA, for some of the content). It may be unfair to compare a book from 1975 to my modern favorites, though! It was a short read and still entertaining, so I'm more than willing to read through the other three books.

I think this is the most interesting book I've read this year, absolutely fascinating. Written in the 1970s by the brilliant Vonda N McIntyre before she wrote the amazing novel Dreamsnake. It has such an interesting and unique setup and some absolutely bizarre characters who nevertheless fit well into the story and are integral to it.

It reads a bit like a dream or a trip on mushrooms, the intricate detail of some of the world building and the blurred fuzziness of other parts make it
Jul 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
Murky and unsatisfying.
Great characters, great world crafting and great story!
Mar 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-fiction, 1982
[These notes were written in 1982:]. Here is a work of imagination that stands on its own. In the underworld of an underground city, a young girl - disconcertingly called Mischa - is linked telepathically (and unwillingly) to her idiot sister [2010 note: I considered changing that to something more PC, but that's how I expressed it then]. From above descend two outworlders, apparently twins, but actually linked only by their telepathic bond. The tale is of the breaking of the two bonds, and invo ...more
Catherine Siemann
Conceptually interesting, but underdeveloped, which I suspect may be a side effect of 1970s sf publishing (books possibly being held to a certain length?). Frederic Jameson writes about McIntyre's book in his Archaeologies of the Future, and finds depths that remind me to slow down and be a more attentive reader.

The primary characters are Mischa (a young thief with telepathic abilities, trapped by her exceptionally dysfunctional family), Jan Hikaru (more of an observer), and Subtwo (
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
A story of set on a dysfunctional, poor, and mostly forgotten Earth in a time when humanity has spread out widely in space. The main character is a girl, teenage, who is highly talented with telepathic abilities, mathematical abilities, fighting skills, etc., but is trapped in a life of small time thievery and trapped mentally by her defective sister.

Aliens (or, maybe just humans from outer space?) arrive, arrange a minor coup and take over the earth city (which seems to be most of w
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
It's a pretty good pulpy action story. I mean, it had me the moment they introduced a male love slave -- pity we didn't get more of him on camera. :D


There were a few points that bothered me - overly repetitious sections, the fact that the main character is motivated by a dying addict brother who conveniently dies as soon as that motivation is no longer needed. The bad guys are all purely despicable. The good guys are all woefully tormented. The main character is as
Dec 08, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one a lot, even though I feel I missed something - at least I felt as if there were some things I ought to have picked up and understood about some of the characters which I didnt - but I think it is mostly because it is a short book and a lot of things are hinted at for depth which are never elaborated.[return]This is a dystopian novel of people against the system, of an old decadent system, a young girl trying to get out of it, and a bunch of piratical misfits arriving in the mi ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fredrick Danysh
Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Centuries after war devastates Earth, only the city of Center remains. For the mutant girl Mischa a life of crime is her only means of survival. Starships circle the planet and she hopes to one day leave the hell that is Earth and join them. If discovered to be a mutant she will be exiled from the city. After the aliens discover her hidden talent one wants to save her while another wants to hunt her down and kill her.
Justin Howe
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Telepathic girl living in the last city on a post-apocalyptic Earth wants to join the space pirates that decide to winter in the city. As one can guess, her plans go awry.

Some parts of this were good, some not so good, and much of the plot, surprisingly, spins on f'd-up family relationships. That's cool, except when it isn't and the family member is just a heap of annoying plot complications.
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I had been putting it off for ages because the first couple of chapters weren't very engaging, but I pushed on and read it all in one sitting last night. The story was okay, nothing spectacular, and the writing was of a much lower standard than Dreamsnake. Overall, this was a fairly cliched story with a few original idea - disappointing, because Dreamsnake is one of my favourite sci-fi books.
Michael Blackmore
Oh, I so wanted to get into this more than I did. But unfortunately, it really never quite jelled for me as a book or in particular as a SF book. It felt there wasn't enough building of the world and too many of the character actions seemed plot convenience driven to me. The shame was there was potential littered here and there.
James Broussard
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the end I liked this book, but I had a lot of trouble getting going with it. I was a little surprised at the publication date, from the style and content I would have assumed it was published in the 90s, not the 70s.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
An early (first?) work. Awkward and rough in places -- I think she hadn't yet fully hit stride. But it managed to surprise me by avoiding a lot of the tropes I was predicting. Worth reading in general, but particularly interesting as a contrast to her later works.
Erik Graff
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: The Science Fiction Book Club
Shelves: sf
This was Vonda McIntyre's first book. Not quite as good as her later, award-winning Dreamsnake, it is still worth a reading--and not just by science fiction fans.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
good apoctalyptic scifi.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very well done. A believable "after the fall Earth" and characters to match. Bonus, spaceships, too!
rated it it was amazing
Oct 01, 2019
Jeanette Trevino
rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2017
Garth Upshaw
rated it it was amazing
Feb 06, 2016
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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