Eos, Apr 2002, 25.95, 416 pp.
Her older stepsister Rashel, who cares nothing about her except to insure she does not get in her way, raises (a loose verb for Cinderella-like slavery) Disme Latimer following the strange deaths of family members. As Rashel becomes conservator of a renowned Museum, Disme finds a book written by an ancestor that explains the “magic” that followed the asteroid catastrophe that destroyed the planet. The book hints that her distant relative Nell, author of the tome, still miraculously lives.
Disme knows she must hide this book from Rashel who would turn her and her book in to the authorities to further her own career. The youth begins to learn the ancient magic. If the government finds out what she is doing, they would "bottle" her away and her relative would gladly turn her in. However, THE VISITOR who caused the pandemic destruction in the long ago twenty-first century is apparently returning. The world needs a hero, but could that person be a so young, too frightened, and clearly all alone female hiding her activities from her guardian?
THE VISITOR is science fiction at its bleakest best as Sheri S. Tepper paints a dark panorama of a distant future filled with repression and gloom. The story line is as complex and furnished with intelligent concepts as much as any genre novel contains yet THE VISITOR is also loaded with action and deeply drawn charcaters. As Zager and Evans break into song, readers will agree that Ms. Tepper has written a tale that will be on everyone's short list as a candidate for the genre's book of the year.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner