January 11, 2007
Archangel Protocol by Lyda Morehouse
Imagine cyberpunk meets “A Handmaid’s Tale”. Fundamentalism juxtaposed with virtual reality. That gives you an idea of the world depicted in Archangel Protocol. Deidre McMannus ex-cop, has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for her association with her partner who has been found guilty of murdering the Pope. This leaves her on the fringes of a society in which membership in an organized religion is a requirement for the full benefits of citizenship, including being connected to the LINK, an implanted, interactive network. Lately angels have been appearing on the LINK, which some claim heralds the Second Coming, namely a vocally right-wing presidential candidate. In this setting, a stranger appears at McMannus’s detective office, asking her help to debunk the angels.
I found this to be a riveting adventure, set in a creatively portrayed world. I wish, however that the author had included some kind of reference guide at the end of the book, as their are many concepts which are unclear. It got rather confusing around the middle of the book, but if you are patient, it gets clearer towards the end. Morehouse does include various “news articles” at the end of each chapter, which make help the reader piece together the puzzle.
Exile’s Song by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Margaret Alton, the estranged daughter of Lew Alton has become a Terran University scholar, the assistant of ethno-musicologist Ivor Davidson. When they travel to Darkover to research folk music, she expects it to be like any other trip. What she finds instead, is long-buried memories of her traumatic childhood, relatives she didn’t know existed, and an the inheritance to a Domain she doesn’t want. What follows is a fascinating psychological journey and growth of an amazing character. Margaret, accustomed to the individualism of Terran society, chafes against the familial expectations of Darkovan culture. She is also baffled by the awakening of her extraordinary laran powers. Meanwhile tensions between the Comyn, the noble families of Darkover come to the fore as Darkover’s place in the Federation must be decided.
Exile’s Song takes place 20-some years after Sharra’s Exile, the events of which center around Lew Alton.
The Sacred Isle: Belief and Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland by Daithi O hOgain
I thought this was a very good explanation of ancient Irish religion. It would serve as a good introduction to those who are new to this area of study, as well as add to the knowledge of more experienced readers. O hOgain discusses the evidence beginning with preCeltic cultures, and gives his own interpretations. One caveat to keep in mind however, is that he has a tendency to emphasize solar mythology, which is a rather outdated Victorian conceit that most Celtic scholars have since rejected. While the sun was undoubtedly important to the ancient Irish, it was not the be-all and end-all of their religious worldview. He also likes to make arguments that various mythological figures are the same being. These points aside, there are a lot of interesting insights on the deities to be found and intriguing interpretations of the myths. He devotes Chapters 3 & 4 to the druids, giving detailed information on the evidence we have of their practices and teachings as well as reading in between the lines with comparison to other cultures.