Now they are available in one omnibus edition. (Yes, this is not the original publication order, but you can read them this way though it’s not ideal.)
Time to resurrect two retro reviews.
Review: Forests of the Night, S. Andrew Swann, 1993.
I don’t re-read many books, but, after reading Swann’s Prophets: Apotheosis: Book One, I wanted to return to the same universe, so I started again at the beginning.
I wasn’t disappointed. This book still holds up with the exception of some outdated computer technology, but science fiction fans should be able to overlook that. With this, his first novel, Swann was already a master of plotting, of doling out information at just the right time, of writing cinematically vivid action scenes that are multi-sensory – particularly here where one of the prime senses of the hero is smell.
That hero is one Nohar Rajasthan. Nohar has a couple of crosses to bear. The first is that his father was a revolutionary who died in a gun battle with police. The second is that he’s a moreau – a genetic chimera of human and animal designed as a soldier. Nohar happens to be a human/tiger hybrid. But Nohar’s more immediate problem is that he’s almost broke. A private eye in Cleveland, his most recent client gets shot in a bar by a gun toting Afghan dog, and Nohar finds himself breaking one of his most basic rules – taking a case that involves a human. Said human, now dead, was the campaign manager for a virulently anti-moreau politician. And Nohar’s new client seems to be one of the few Americans more despised and with less rights than a moreau – a “frank” aka frankenstein, a genetically altered human. Throw in lots of gunfights, political intrigue with a surprising revelation, and even some interspecies sex and you have a very fast-moving, entertaining novel. (Swann handles the usual mystery/thriller cliché of the protagonist bedding someone he meets during the course of the investigation so well I didn’t mind much.)
Review: Fearful Symmetries: The Return of Nohar Rajasthan, S. Andrew Swann, 1999.
The tiger is ex-private eye Nohar Rajasthan, and he’s only part tiger and part part man, a rare natural descendent of moreaus – animal-human chimeras designed for war. It’s been 17 years since the events of Forests of the Night, seven years since Nohar left his human wife Stephanie. He lives on a homestead in California, part of a government program designed, in the wake of massive moreau-human violence, to get moreaus away from urban areas. He lives a simple life of hunting deer. His joints aching in the morning, his stripes faded, he knows he won’t live long.
But, after he turns down a generous offer from an anonymous client to find a missing moreau and a hit team descends on his cabin, he has no choice but to return to Los Angeles and confront his past and the world he left.
In some ways, this is not only the shortest but most contemplative of Swann’s moreau books. While it still has plenty of action, it also has Nohar confronting not only the fearful symmetries of his created purpose but also memories of his early life and the similarities between his own distant father and the murderous forces he must combat.
While Swann again adds another chapter in the troubled relations between human and moreau and even shows us the first moreaus to be created, this is not a good entry point in the series. It depends too much on resonances from early books. But, after finishing those early books, it is definitely worth reading.
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