Joan (Carol) D(ennison) Vinge Anthony R. Lewis - Essay

Anthony R. Lewis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The title novella in Fireship] is a competent adventure story. The protagonist, whom we do not meet until late in the story, has by his existence called into being an antagonist. This antagonist would normally be considered the hero. He is a human/computer symbiosis, not a cyborg. The computer personality is more appealing than the human in most aspects. The "hero" gets involved in interplanetary intrigue, fights assorted villains, wins in the end, and gets to bed a female. But the culmination is not that of the typical super-agent story. Victory is achieved by the (not-quite Hegelian) synthesis of the protagonist (villain) and the antagonist (our hero) which suggests a higher order of human/computer symbiosis is possible…. [By itself, this story] would not justify the book.

The second novella, Mother and Child, more than justifies the existence of this book…. The story is this: an alien planet, with two cultures. One is agricultural worshipping the Mother Goddess (the Kotaane), the other is urban and patriarchal (the Neaane). The Kotaane have an additional sense, which is either absent in the Neaane or is suppressed by deliberate mutilation. These cultures are coming into conflict. Mixing into this is a second group of aliens, the Colonial Service. A Kotaane priestess, pregnant by her smith husband, is stolen by Neaane forces and becomes concubine to their king. Her subsequent life, childbirth, exile, and recovery...

(The entire section is 476 words.)