(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In this early novel, published before the author’s highly visible career producing novelizations of Star Trek films, McIntyre follows the well-established tradition of the masculine heroic quest story but modifies the form to suit a feminist worldview. As is typical of quest stories, in Dreamsnake a young protagonist sets out on a difficult journey to find something of great value and encounters trials and adventures along the way. Instead of a weapon, a woman, or a treasure, the thing of great value for which McIntyre’s protagonist searches is a dreamsnake, a tool of nurturing.

In the traditional male-oriented trajectory of a heroic quest, the obstacles encountered by the hero are enemies with whom he must fight in order to prove himself. In Dreamsnake, the trials are challenges of healing and caring, not challenges of force; they are patients to be treated, not enemies to be bested. Snake is tested, strengthened, and softened by her encounters with a woman with a broken spine and radiation poisoning, an arrogant injured aristocrat who will not follow her advice, a young man who has failed to master control of his own fertility, and a scarred young victim of sexual abuse whom Snake finally adopts as her own daughter. The maturity Snake wins through her quest is not the hardness of a battle-seasoned warrior but the humanity of a woman who can deal honorably with her professional responsibilities and also accept responsibility for a...

(The entire section is 404 words.)