by Patricia Waddell, futuristic (2002)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52522-4
Whispers In The Stars is a pleasant if unremarkable read, unremarkable because it is just that - a typical so-called "futuristic" starring your alpha barbaromale and virgin queen empath peace-loving barbie. Instead of having a decent story like saving the universe from King Kang the Evil Conqueror, everything boils down to a plot that reinforces gender stereotypes. You probably know the drill: men are warlike and arrogant, women are nurturers and healers and lovers, and these two fit each other, blah blah blah.
Ms Waddell, there are so many mediocre futuristics out there featuring the same old schtick about how Love and Purity can overcome Evil and other nonsense, so why squander paper on yet another recycling of the same old story?
Queen Zara is a peaceful queen of a primitive planet. She spends all her time praying or wandering around her palace hallways in some ethereal, pale, whey-faced manner, murmuring non-stop catchphrases like "peace", "love", "trust", and other happy words. If Deepak Chopra decides to start his own Scientology, he will ask everybody to pray to the great Zara of Planet Nubia.
The people of Nubia don't have much to say. Mostly they gather at the grounds of the palace when Nubia Zara Evita here summons them, and then they will cheer when our Nubia Zara Evita raises her hands and says something inane to them. At other times they nod at everything she says.
Since any planet ruled by a woman must be a loving, graceful, peace-loving one (should we ask Marge Thatcher to come back and propose some new taxes?), Nubia is always an impartial planet, sort of like the Switzerland of the United Galaxy. But one day she, er, "accidentally" harbors some rebels, and as a result, she must now marry warlord Logan, Commander of the Galactic Guard, or Nubia will be in big trouble forever.
So they marry. So they have sex. And now she must teach him the ways of Peace and Love while resisting his attempts to build watchtowers on the planet. Then he decides that it's time she see the outside world and takes her on a pilgrimage, which she embarks bare-footed. (Our heroine is too fae and pure to have blisters. That or she has an elephant's feet.) The whole story is basically one long emphasis and reemphasis on sexual stereotypes: men are warlike and it is up to us loving, healing, peace-loving women to make them understand that living life the zen and pure way is the only way to go. Nubia Zara Evita is lethally dull - perfectly beautiful, devoid of sins, constantly praying and preaching sweetness and sugarcakes - while Logan is the humorless alpha type who will not accept his wife being anything less than inhumanly pristine, pure, and perfect. There is an interesting twist towards the end, but this twist ends up reaffirming yet again how pure and selfless and virtuous Nubia Zara Evita is.
In Nubia, people never lie, cheat, or wage war. Not surprising, since they don't seem to have any personality at all. Whispers In The Stars isn't a futuristic fantasy as much as it is a Carebear fantasy of one-dimensional characters living in a one-dimensional world. Instead of saving the world from Jar Jar Binks, they want to teach the world the Power of Female Purity.
I say we build a Death Star and obliterate this horrible planet from existance.
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