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Gwendolen Ingolfsson, hurled into a parallel Earth filled with billions of unaltered, antique humans when the molehole experiment she was working on malfunctioned, is very clear where her duty lies. As a member of the Draka, genetically engineered to dominate crude, unmodified humans, her task is to build a molehole device in this universe and establish a bridgehead for the Race to come through. It had been some time since the Draka last had such an opportunity for conquest...As for Detective-Lieutenant Henry Carmaggio, he'd seen plenty of blood, both in Cambodia and in twenty years of police work. But he'd never seen anything like this. Something was loose in his city, something inhuman that walked among us, killing with the easy precision of a leopard in a flock of sheep. And unless he could track it down it would kill and kill again - until the whole world was its hunting ground.
Review by Reynold Starnes
Drakon is S. M. Stirling’s follow-up to the Draka Domination trilogy. The Domination trilogy is an alternate history tale which envisions a dystopian society formed in South Africa by British loyalists following the American Revolution. The Draka society is slave-holding and racist with everyone not part of the privileged Draka elite viewed as serfs. At the end of the trilogy, we find the Draka are bioengineering their off-spring to become a new and superior species.
Drakon begins in the year 2442, where Gwendolyn Ingolfson, who is a first-generation modified Draka and is nearly five hundred years old acts as a trouble-shooter for the Race. She took part in the Final War which, in this timeline, the Draka won. Except for a small number of feral humans, the solar system only has the Draka and homo servus, genetically modified humans. At the end of that war, the losing humans fled to Alpha Centauri and populated the planet Samothrace.
She is called to help on a project investigating wormholes, in pursuit of faster-than-light travel. There is an accident at the project site, and she alone is thrust into 1999 and a world much like ours. The accident is observed by the Samothracians, who have harnessed wormhole technology; one of them, Kenneth Lafarge follows Gwendolyn. The third principal character in the novel is a New York City detective, Henry Carmaggio, who tracks Ingolfson after she embarks on a crime spree. The plot is terrific and the pace of the book is excellent; Stirling does a good job on character development.
Stirling uses a couple to cultural references which make it clear the Earth of 1999 in Drakon is not exactly ours. Looking for these is entertaining.
Alternate History is one of the most interesting forms of Sci-Fi, the key to which is getting the reader to suspend belief and buy into the different reality. The Domination Trilogy was Stirling’s first published foray into the AH genre, and I kept getting sidetracked when reading the books on historical divergences that I did not buy. Drakon is the work of a more mature writer and it shows. Only once did I stop and question the author’s logic: I couldn’t figure out why one of the good guys didn’t simply put a .50 caliber bullet from a Barrett sniper rifle into her head; they kept trying to kill the superwoman close in.
That is really nitpicking, however. This is a good read and any Stirling fan will enjoy it. It is close to being my favorite Stirling novel. The plot is intricate, the writing is good, the characters are realistic, including the featured and minors, and the story does not drag. He makes the interplay between 1999 Earth and the technology of 2442 believable. Good stuff.