Julian May






Second in the Galactic Milieu Trilogy
Ballantine Books, Reissue 1995
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Science Fiction

The little girl who will become Saint Illusio Diamond Mask is so frightened of her mind powers that she keeps them hidden unreachably away. They might never have been released if it wasnít for the murder of her mother by the predatory group mind named Hydra.

Dorothea is what they call a latent. She has one of the strongest sets of mind powers known among humans, but they are unusable, except for a mental shield so strong that doctors with the power of mind healing canít get through it no matter how they hammer. They have caused little Dorothea a great deal of pain without making any progress whatever in bringing her powers to the surface. It is finally love, not the determination of her relatives, that makes it worthwhile for her to express her abilities.

We learn throughout DIAMOND MASK that Dorothea is not the only person reluctant to submit to the educational methods of the Galactic Milieu. There is a growing Rebel movement, made up of humans who fear Unity, the mental mingling that is predicted for their race when they reach the crucial population of ten billion. No one among the exotic races of the Milieu has been able to adequately explain Unity. Humans are sharply divided among those who long for a sense of union with all other Milieu members, and those who interpret it as a loss of individuality and privacy. The mental monster known as Fury is encouraging the Rebels, influencing key people, determined to rule a human empire free of domination by the exotic races of the Milieu.

Jack the Bodiless and his brother Marc Remillard are maturing. Marc cares for nothing but his CE technology, a means of mechanically enhancing mind power. His equipment is strongly disapproved of by the Milieu, but he controls earthquakes with it, so it has not been outlawed. Jack works with Marc, but his interests are broader. For instance, he has learned of the existence of a girl near his own age, equal to him in power. His attempts to talk to Dorothea across broad expanses of space get their relationship very much off on the wrong foot. 

DIAMOND MASK is principally the story of Dorothea, but her early life brings to light the things that are most wrong with the Galactic Milieuís handling of humans. It is easy for us to generalize from Dorotheaís example, to see why the Rebels feel as they do. Author Julian May does not intend for us to condemn either side Ė yet. She shows the tide of human thought very much as it might result from these circumstances. Where matters go awry is in those places where Fury is taking a hand, turning human leaders in new directions that may be fatal for mankind. 

DIAMOND MASK has an element of the horror novel which is missing from the rest of the nine-book series. We are given a clear picture of Hydra, the killer entity controlled by Fury. There are also a couple of scenes underground, in what amounts to a charnel house, that are not for the gentle minded. Dorotheaís determination to put an end to her motherís killers leads her into dangerous paths.

May gives us a celebratory ending in the best novel tradition. Then she adds a single dark line. It sends us racing for MAGNIFICAT, the final book of the series Ė to find out if itís true and what the hell they can do about it.

Jan 2006 Review


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