Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre


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. . . .

Details Dreamsnake

Release DateSep 1st, 1994
PublisherSpectra Books
GenreScience Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Apocalyptic, Post Apocalyptic, Hugo Awards

Reviews Dreamsnake

  • Sarah
    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 ...
  • Mike Moore
    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 dispe...
  • 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 h...
  • 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 emoti...
  • Allison Hurd
    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)[ animal cruelty, snakes (obvs), rape, pedophilia, child abuse, medical proce...
  • Oleksandr Zholud
    This is a SF post-apoc (?) novel, which reads at times like fantasy. It won Nebula, Locus and Hugo Award in 1979. I read as a Buddy read November 2019 in SciFi and Fantasy Book Club group.This is a classic SF adventure/quest across the world, unknown to the reader with hints misunderstood by the narrator, which ought to end-up with finding the Grail. The protagonist is a woman-healer called Snake. She wonders across the world helping people with ...
  • Kaa
    I thought the first chapter, which was originally an independent short story, was really lovely and moving. I enjoyed the world-building of the whole book a lot, especially the open attitudes toward sexuality and the use of snakes for medicine, and I thought the way the story slowly opened up to reveal more and more about the setting was wonderfully done. However, I was a bit let down by where the story went in the second half, and I found the fa...
  • 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 us...
  • Ian Banks
    This is dated in a way that most books around forty years old are dated but the setting and ideas are presented competently enough that it doesn’t really matter. It’s about a healer, Snake, who travels with three gengineered snakes that help her practice medicine. One of them is killed and she must find a replacement for it. It sounds like a standard quest story and in a lot of ways it is, but what makes it stand out is the easy prose that lu...
  • Bradley
    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 ad...
  • Dawn C
    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 w...
  • Nikki
    Received to review via NetgalleyIt’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 c...
  • Mareike
    A 3,5 roundedup to a four.I liked a lot of things about this book, especially the worldbuilding and the different groups of people Snake encounters. I especially liked the sense of equality and respect running through (most of) those encounters. It feels like that is rare in novels with a post-apocalyptic setting.But while I felt for some of the characters, the book never touched or moved me deeply, so it never reached the point that made me love...
  • 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 ann...
  • Tudor Ciocarlie
    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.
  • 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, crat...
  • Derek
    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. Appare...
  • Megan Baxter
    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 pre...
  • HeyT
    After first reading about this book on one of those Tor.com blog posts about women sci-fi writers I put it on my tbr pile and then kept getting side tracked. I finally sat down and read it due to a buddy read for one of my goodreads groups and it was just as good as the article said it would be. I was immediately immersed in the world from the first chapter and kept on being entranced in the world as it moved on from the initial short story and i...
  • Krazykiwi
    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 mixt...
  • Punk
    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 thr...
  • Viv JM
    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 s...
  • Sheila
    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...
  • 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 muta...
  • 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 even...
  • Princessjay
    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 peop...
  • Cheryl
    Done. I've not a whole lot to say. The first half (barring the lovely first chapter) felt very earnestly YA... as if the author were telling her young female readers that they can grow up to be a wise brave independent healer like Snake if they're willing to undergo training and risk encounters with 'hostile native' type people.The second half became, imo, more of a real story, and I began to actually become more engaged instead of aloof & analyt...
  • Bondama
    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.