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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller and winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, Dreamsnake is the haunting, critically acclaimed novel of an extraordinary woman and her dangerous quest to reclaim her healing powers.

When the healer Snake was summoned, she traveled the blasted landscape with her three serpents. From the venom of two of them, she distilled her medicines. But most valued of all was the alien dreamsnake, whose bite could ease the fear and pain of death.

When the dreamsnake is killed, Snake's powers as a healer are all but lost. Her only hope of finding another dreamsnake lies in a treacherous journey to the far-off Center City, where Snake will be pursued by two implacable followers: one driven mad by love, the other by fear and need.

©1978 Vonda N. McIntyre (P)1999 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Nebula Award Winner, Best Novel, 1978

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 1979

"Anna Fields narrates with her usual mastery of the nuances of plot, mood, and character....Fields adds to the haunting sense of reality and possibility that underlies the events set forth." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Dreamsnake

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Sets the Mark for Fantasy Excellence

I read this book in the early '80's, shortly after the author received the Hugo and Nebula awards. I remembered this book over the years. When I saw it on Audible, I worried that perhaps it wasn't as wonderful as I thought. Maybe it was just the impression of a twenty something relieved to be reading something besides a textbook.
This book held up magnificently over the years. I now remember why it impressed me so much. The characters and scenes are vivid. Ethical themes are not preached; they are communicated in the plot, where choosing right is often hard. McIntyre's best talent, though, is the introduction of new ideas with foreshadowing. This gives me the chance to ponder the mysteries of the story as it unfolds. It's really a gift to the reader because you're constantly thinking and wondering about say,domes, that barely get mentioned, but become more interesting throughout the book.
The soft science makes this a fantasy. The hints of other world technology gives it an SF flavor. It is a great ride!

14 people found this helpful

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Fun, unknown classic

This is a fun story set in a post-apocalyptical time. The characters are engaging and interesting. There is a lot of "free love" in the book, which kind of upstages the really outstanding plot and dramatic idea, which involves alien snakes, long journeys and ultimate danger. The performer was quite good, but the sound quality was very strange. The narration was loud, but the dialogue was very quiet, which is really frustrating in a car. In the end, it's a good book, though.

3 people found this helpful

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Cringy bedroom scene but amazing ending

This book's last few hours are really good, giving a great exploration of the strange and alien. Well written. Good ending. Polygamy and polyandry make for cool elements throughout since societies in the book act differently from ours, and the reasoning makes sense since people live in small, isolated communities.

Casual sex with strangers is definitely a thing in this book, sort of like offering a guest a cup of bedtime tea, and that didn't impress me, but the sex scene isn't erotic/detailed; if you wish to skip it, the following scene or two fill in most of what you need to know for everything to make sense; the only thing you'll miss is that while the main character is intimate with one man, she's wishing it was with another, whom she'd actually felt a connection with. Conversely, this book handles issues of abuse and loving those whom others have thrown away beautifully! It has a wonderful "found family," too.

2 people found this helpful

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A longtime favorite

Dreamsnake has been a favorite novel of mine for decades. I was delighted to find the narration is excellent with well defined characterizations and pacing. This audio book is a real treat for an old fan and an invitation to younger readers to discover a great sci-fi author.

1 person found this helpful

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Will there be more

I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the characters and glimpses of the world that they inhabited. I hope that there will be more stories set on this world. There is a lot of people variety from desert nomads to space ports and signs of a massive planet disaster. The civilizations that each developed are only glimpsed at. I hope that there will be more to come about this world.

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Good old fashioned story with grate narrator

I bought this book because i heard the first chapter for free in audible channels, and was thrilled to know the outcome.
It was a sheer success, the story is classic.
One more thing, I read some warnings about the narration, but trust me, she is wonderful!

2 people found this helpful

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Deserves All the Awards!!

I finally got to listen to this great book. Now, I’ll be looking forward to reading more of her books!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

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Solid story

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I’m just bummed there’s no sequels, there was a lot of room for world building.

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Loved it!

I sincerely hope there will be more books about Snake. One was not enough! Perfect read for magician adventure lovers. Snakes rule!

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A story with a heart

This book doesn't have an epic end of the world stakes, a chosen one or a dark lord, but has up its sleeve some adventure and found-family set in a world that feels lived-in. The protagonist Snake is one of the best written females I've read. She's caring, compassionate, makes genuine mistakes that have consequences, and has agency. Other than the romance that felt a bit rushed, the book also has a fairly small but empathetic supporting characters. I especially liked Melissa, Grum, and Gabriel who act as foils for different themes. If you enjoy a low-stakes character-driven story, this one shouldn't be missed.

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  • Mike
  • 11-18-14

Classic SF that's still fresh 30 year on

The 1980 Pan Edition of "Dreamsnake" snagged my attention because the graphics were original and intriguing and winning the Hugo AND the Nebula awards placed it alongside "Dune ", "The Left Hand of Darkness", "Ringworld " and "The Dispossessed " all by authors I knew well. Yet I had never heard of Vonda McIntyre.

I bought the book, was hooked from the first scene, read it compulsively for the next few days and have carried it with me from house to house ever since.

When I came across the audiobook version (with a much less inspired cover), I decided to find out whether the book was impressive because it was of its time or whether it was simply a good book.

The audiobook itself must have been pioneering as it was recorded by Blackstone Audio in 1999. You can hear its age from time to time in the sound quality but Anna Fields' talent as a narrator more than makes up for that.

I'm happy to say that "Dreamsnake" is just as good now as I remember it being then.

Even on the first read, I was aware of how deftly Vonda McIntyre tells her tale. She builds a complete view of a complex world, not by using info-dumps/quotes from historic chronicles, but by showing what people take for granted and what they question.

Back then I was also impressed by the liberal sexual mores of societies that embraced, polyamory and required adults to have control over their own reproductive capabilities. These were radical ideas back then but "Dreamsnake" neither sensationalises them nor pushes them as dogma.

On a second read, I became aware that Vonda McIntyre had done something truly remarkable that I didn't notice the first time around: she has written an exciting adventure that calls for bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of physical danger but where problems are never resolved through violence.

The strongest themes in this book are freedom, responsibility, and mutual obligation. Yet the book also reads as a quest-based adventure.

"Snake", the Healer in the book, remains one of my favourite characters in Science Fiction. She is honest, brave, determined to help others but not superhuman. She is prone to anger, guilty of arrogance from time to time and often endangers herself and others because of a fundamentally naive world-view. Yet she is the kind of person who will always inspire fierce loyalty without ever seeking to do so.

"Dreamsnake" is a short book by modern SF standards. On the re-read I was aware of how much more I wanted to know about this world and the people in it. There is enough here to power at least a trilogy. "Dreamsnake" was actually built on a short story "Of Mist and Grass and Sand" which perhaps explains its compact power and there were no sequels.

If you are an SF fan, you should count "Dreamsnake" as part of the cannon.

If you're not sure if SF is for you, give "Dreamsnake" a try and see if Snake and her serpents can win your heart the way they did mine.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Laura
  • 02-26-19

loved the paperback, love the audiobook.

Very much enjoyed. Narrator was perfect in my eyes (or ears) and I had high standards as this is my favourite scifi book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Louis
  • 05-08-14

The narration completes this well-rounded title.

If you could sum up Dreamsnake in three words, what would they be?

A slightly dark, very well detailed and believable story with rich characters and good pace. Well thought through and subtle in its future setting like hard sci fi should be. The narration was superb - Anna Fields has a charming yet soothing voice that can occasionally ignite characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Caroline
  • 05-07-13

DreamSnake by Vonda N MaIntyre

Having read a few Of Vondas books my only dissapointment with this one was that she has not written a sequel if she ever does I want it








1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 01-07-09

Dreamsnake

I've had this book as a favourite since I read it way back when it was first published. This Audiobook version is enhanced by the sympathetic reading and is a great rendition, allowing the characters a vocalisation they richly deserve. The story as always evokes a great sense of a world radically changed and varied from our own, which the narrator helps to project to the listener. Many Thanks.

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  • Alexandra
  • 09-21-21

Contemplative and soothing

I loved spending time with these characters. The narrator was so soothing as well. The author managed to create a living, breathing world in such a short book. Genuinely sad it was over so soon.

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  • Liz Bear
  • 09-11-21

Reader volume varies within sentences

I love this story, but cannot listen to the audiobook, the narrator voice keeps disappearing on the last word of a sentence and whispering some of the lines, I find it impossible to listen to