Charles de Lint, Svaha (ACE 1989; Orb reprint, 2000)  

 

 

Svaha is a little different from what we are accustomed to seeing from Canadian fantasist Charles de Lint, being much more science fiction than fantasy. However, there are elements of that urban and/or mythic fantasy which glimmer through now and again.

The year is 2094, and the Native tribes have built Enclaves to live in. The Enclaves are the only places left on the face of the earth where nature is thriving. They are havens where pollution doesn't exist, nor acid rain, nor crimes against the earth and its people. Outside the Enclaves there is naught but desolation and despair, and people are concentrated in small complexes where power and money rule. These complexes are ruled and policed by different factions, mostly the Chinese and Japanese.

The tribes can do nothing to prevent the killing of nations and the land. They can only wait until it is safe to use their technology to cleanse the world and rebuild it as it should be. It is this technology that the complexes want at any cost, including murder. They have placed the blame for the devastation at the feet of the tribes, in order to further the hatred and drive for revenge.

It is for this reason that Gahzee is chosen to leave the Enclave. A flyer has gone down, and a systems chip that is encoded with vital technological secrets is missing. Gahzee must find the chip before anyone else can use it. He will never be able to return to the Enclave, for it lies behind force fields and is pure. The Outerlands are filled with diseases, and the Enclaves cannot risk contamination. Gahzee will be alone and homeless, giving all he has so that the Enclaves will stay safe and thrive.

The first night out of the enclave Gahzee befriends a coyote, Nanabozho, and they become a tribe of two. A beginning. Then Gahzee is captured by a group of Outlanders who intend to cook him and eat him, believing his flesh will make them healthy.

Gahzee manages to escape, taking out a number of the enemy. He then learns that the populace believes the state of the world is the 'Claver's' fault, a belief that could not be further from the truth.

Gahzee chances across a battle between messenger Lisa Bone and some of the complexes' Mafia types, the 'Yaks'. She is running from some serious trouble; already two friends have died in her stead.

Gahzee and Lisa are caught up in a power struggle and Gahzee discovers that the 'Yaks' have killed off everyone living in one of the Enclaves with the use of the stolen technology. He is too late.

Gahzee claims the Enclave and means to clean up the entire world with the help of Lisa Bone and her friends, and an independent power base, the Jones Co-op.

This is a tale of hope, for mankind, and for the future of the planet. Svaha is Amerindian and means "the time between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder; a waiting for promises to be fulfilled". Svaha is the new name of the acquired Enclave.

[Naomi de Bruyn]