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The Gaia Websters
by Kim Antieau
The Gaia Websters by Kim Antieau is a fun little postapocalyptic novel that suggests society would be much better off if we'd just throw all this nasty technology away and live in harmony with mother Earth for a few centuries. Unfortunately, Antieau can't quite seem to decide whether she's writing SF or bunny-hugging mysticism. It's an interesting blend, but she doesn't quite succeed at either one.
Three hundred years after the complete breakdown of society, Gloria Stone woke up in a cave with no memory, no name, no clothes, nothing but the ability to heal by touch. Ten years later, she lives in the Arizona Territory, serving as a village healer in exchange for room and board. The use of technology is severely restricted, and the villagers live off the land. One day a stranger shows up to demand that Gloria accompany him to visit the Arizona governor. When she refuses, an epidemic sweeps her town, and a different malady that even Gloria can't cure is leaving people with holes in their heads where their memories used to be. Convinced that the governor's people are behind all this, Gloria sets off to answer his summons and demand some answers. Cue the ominous music.
Antieau never quite descends into preachiness, but she bounces on it pretty hard a few times. She also fails to fully develop her premise or explain Gloria's healing powers.
The book's saving grace is its brevity. It clocks in at only 230 pages and moves too quickly to dwell on the plotholes or eco-silliness. There are also some lovely descriptions of the Arizona desert. I had trouble taking The Gaia Websters seriously, but I did read it all in one sitting. I'll cautiously recommend it to anyone who doesn't cheer for the French when they sink those Greenpeace ships.
-- Christina Schulman.
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