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  • TITLE: Skinner Luce
  • AUTHOR: Patricia Ward
  • GENRE: Sci Fi




There is a weird opacity to it all, a dream that was fierce in the night, now fading away.



When I came to this sentence 3/4 through the read, I knew I was done, because it described my feelings exactly about this novel.

The "weird opacity" is the setup. This is an alien invasion story, except the Nafikh just want to party and not be interrupted or bothered by mankind. Kinda like 1987's Predator with Arnold at his peak, where the "uglee mudderfukker" is trophy hunting humans for sport, not annihilation. 'Cept this book's aliens want a community of their own making to buffer against discovery. Why the Earth is such a savor to them, I don't know. Something about being cold. They replicate humans to live among us, indistinguishable save for The Source, a device which doles out inner pain like immense heartburn used by the Nafikh when ever they are around (see cover above). The clones are called "servs" and there's a hierarchy of handlers, enforcers, administrators. And the final outcome always seems to be a sex/torture/kill orgy.

Hold it a minute. Doesn't this sound like humans' oldest profession: a prostitution ring?

Anyway, our viewpoint character is Lucy, brought aboard when she was a baby and somehow missed the alien baptism and got raised by humans. She gets discovered, gets tagged, and joins the merry band of gussied-up meat. Being an outcast among outcasts, she's not happy, nor is she very capable of initiating much of anything to save herself or her human family. She's outraged by the control and carnage, of course. She hooks up with a rebel who is buying out servs to set them free, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but is probably answered in the finale. She gets radared by a city cop who knows the whole Nafikh agenda and is trying to unmask it without being burned at the stake for being quacky. It races to a climax which involves The Gatepossibly something like Stargate?and maybe a "fritzing" with the Qadi"monstrous . . . leering smile . . . wisps of white hair . . . bony, trembling frame . . . face scarred with taut red patches"(p.261)for a torturous interrogation.

The "a dream that was fierce" is the most riveting scene in the book: a "servicing" of Rambo, a newbie Nafikh traveling with a seasoned female named Gretel, both pumped to the nines and tearing through servs like drumsticks on Thanksgiving. Out of a dozenone a mere childonly two survive the butchering. "Wildness and blood and sweat and urine"(p.191).

And, the "now fading away" part. Dead at 263 out of 343 pages.(1)


1) For a more conclusive and professional synopsis, go to Kirkus Reviews here.


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