Eos, Sept 2001, 24.00, 272 pp.
In a future Morocco, slavery is legal, an institution deeply ingrained into the fiber of society. Slaves are jessed, given mind-altering drugs that make them loyal and eager to please their master. Hariba, born into poverty in the NEKROPOLIS, actually lived with her family in adjoining crypts until her brother was caught in the sin of adultery. He was flogged and sentenced to thirteen years in prison.
Hariba fearing any deep emotion sold herself into slavery and was jessed to her new master Mbarek. She becomes a housekeeper in his home where she meets the biological construct Akhmim. Despite herself, and knowing any relationship between them is illegal, she falls for him. When she is resold, she runs away from her new masters, taking Akhmim with her. Unless they can find a way to be smuggled into a country where slavery is illegal, even for Chimeras like Akhmim, the two risk capture and death at the hands of the authorities.
Maureen F. McHugh has written a literary science fiction novel that will be enjoyed by fans of Ursula LeGuin. The story line is riveting, but what makes this work so very special is the way slavery is accepted by both slave and master alike. The subcultures of the biological constructs raise interesting social and ethical issues, especially what constitutes humanity. This is a novel that makes readers think and ponder their own values system. Ms. McHugh is going to be a giant in the science fiction genre.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner