The second book of Scott's Benaroya Chronicles (after Passing for Human), first published in 1984, is still one of the most astonishing works of science fiction ever written. Sterling O'Blivion is hard at work fleecing ordinary citizens out of their life savings when she unexpectedly runs into Virginia Woolf in the ladies' room. But Woolf isn't Woolf—she's the titular vampire, Benaroya, a 36-foot-tall body-swapping alien trying to save humanity from the sinister Sajorians. Naturally, Sterling falls madly in love with her. Benaroya's plan involves selling Famous Men's Sperm Kits to adjust human perceptions and coaxing the world into psychic enlightenment over several centuries, unless the Sajorians (or Sterling's own morbid self-pity) get in the way. Scott's complex theories of reality will be a barrier to comprehension for many, but readers who can stick out the obtuse bits will be rewarded with a stunning piece of iconoclasm as Scott takes human society to task for its casual cruelties, meaningless obsessions, and ironic hatred of love. Most notably, Sterling's vampirism and lesbian identity work in tandem to make this an early and invaluable work of queer feminist SF; its historic nature alone is worth the price of admission. Introduction by Theodore Sturgeon. (Apr.)
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