The Moreau Quartet, Volume 2

Here’s a follow up to my early review of the Moreau Quartet, Volume 1, two retro reviews from 2009.

Emperors of the TwilightMoreau Quartet 2Specters of the Dawn

Review: Emperors of the Twilight, S. Andrew Swann, 1994.

Swann takes the classic spy plot of an agent on the run from their employer and creates a very effective second entry in his moreau series. For the unitiated, moreaus are human/animal genetic chimeras designed for military use. In this world, after the Pan-Asiatic War ended, many of them ended up as refugees in the United States. However, Swann does a good enough job explaining the events of the earlier novel, Forests of the Night, that you don’t absolutely need to read the earlier novel to enjoy this book.

Moreaus and their politics show up here in significant ways, but the spy on the run, Evi Isham, is a “frank” as in frankenstein. In her case, her genome was modified by the Japanese, she was bred for the Jordanians, liberated by the Israelis, and, as a refugee after Israel’s destruction, compelled to work for the US government.

Swann not only works out the implications and motivations behind the intrigue of the earlier novel – which takes place six years earlier and in which Isham shows up as a minor character – but greatly expands the geopolitical and technological background of his world. And it’s all seamlessly delivered in a breakneck plot that takes place over a few days, days in which Evi not only has to figure out just how many conspiracies are gunning for her but why.

And it’s not just geopolitical extrapolation Swann does. For those interested in the more intimate aspects of human/moreau interaction partially covered in the earlier novel, Swann has a scene in a Times Square porn theatre which extrapolates that trend too.

The only flaw in this book is too sketchy of motivations for a character at novel’s end, but the novel is otherwise a very strong science fiction spy story which I liked even more than the first book in the series.

Review: Specters of the Dawn, S. Andrew Swann, 1994.

Angel Lopez, a rabbit moreau – moreaus being chimeras made of human and animal genetic stock, leads a rather boring life in San Francisco. It’s been more than six years since private eye Nohar Rajasthan rescued her from death in Cleveland as detailed in Forests of the Night. She spends her spare time in bars and watching Non-Human Football games. Then she meets Byron, a charming vulpine moreau. But there’s more to Byron than his charm as Angel soon finds out. And then she finds herself dodging multiple thugs, human and moreau, who all want something from her.

I didn’t like this book quite as well as the first two moreau books. Part of that is that I just didn’t find Angel as interesting as Nohar or covert operative Evi in Emperors of the Twilight. Those books combined private eye and spy plots with science fiction. Swann uses another stock plot – common person thrown into violent intrigue – here. That means this novel’s beginning has no immediate violence unlike the first two books and is slow compared to them.

However, the pace soon picks up. Angel makes up in logic and stubborness what she doesn’t have in training. And Swann puts another cynical twist on human politics, an even better one than the previous books. He also makes more revelations about the series’ overarching villian. There’s also a cyberpunk element.

Like the other books in the series, Swann has carefully crafted this one to stand alone or as an entry point.

A chronology of the moreau universe’s history up to the end of this novel is also included.

 

More fantastic fiction reviews are indexed by title and author/editor.

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