(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

There is surprisingly little written about this novel, which was published after Elizabeth A. Lynn had become established as a writer. Known for her depiction of strong women and lesbian and gay characters in the Chronicles of Tornor (Watchtower, 1979; The Dancers of Arun, 1979; and The Northern Girl, 1980), she treads new ground in The Sardonyx Net, using multiple main characters and depicting a sophisticated economic and social system complete with its own black market and judicial framework.

She conveys the sense of entrapment powerfully in her portrayal of Dana, the Starcaptain grounded by his smuggling. He pines for the unreachable stars, experiences claustrophobia in the Yago household, and finds his free spirit (as well as his muscles) cramped by the sadistic Zed. Dana’s balanced personality (with a bisexual history), his professionalism as Rhani’s servant (initially under threat from Zed and then because he loves her), and his buoyant spirit make him a strong, interesting character. Through him, Lynn shows the redemptive power of love, which allows him to keep his humanity, caring even for his disfigured enemy Zed. In Dana, Lynn suggests a freedom that transcends any circumstances and a dignity that can rarely be lost.

Lynn plays with the idea of twins and near-doubles not only in the physical resemblance between Zed and Rhani but also with Darien, modeled on Rhani, and the fact that Michel...

(The entire section is 467 words.)