Louise Marley, Author . Ace $23.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-441-01136-0

Initially a conventional first-contact story, Marley's sensitive, lyrical SF novel, set on 23rd-century Earth and the oceanic world Virimund, swiftly evolves into a meditation intertwining spiritual values, godhood itself and romantic love. Marley's feminist springboard is her acceptance of Mary of Magdala, long considered a reformed prostitute, as Christ's first disciple. The Magdalenes, a celibate Roman Catholic order of women priests known as Enquirers, travel the galaxy as anthropological investigators, "to shed light into dark places." Assigned to probe Oa, a mysterious child discovered on Virimund, empathetic Isabel soon learns that Oa represents one of humanity's deepest yearnings, for the fountain of eternal youth. Torn between her forbidden love for Dr. Simon Edwards, like herself a healer, and her sacred vow of celibacy, Isabel asks Simon to help Oa escape the megaworld ExtraSolar Corporation, whose general administrator, Gretchen Boreson, has her own devious reasons to claim Oa and her few fellow "anchens," the abandoned children of Virimund. Told in alternating glimpses through Isabel's and Oa's viewpoints and reintroducing the enigmatic character Jin-Li Chung from the author's The Terrorists of Irustan (1999), the book treats feminism's central issues gently, skirting the strident swamps of passion and the fatal abyss of sentimentality, with tender insights into love and sacrifice all too rare today. Agent, Peter Rubie. (May 4)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 352 pages - 978-0-7865-5867-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-441-01212-1
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-7865-5866-7
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-1-933846-52-1
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