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Plague of Memory    by S. L. Viehl order for
Plague of Memory
by S. L. Viehl
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Plague of Memory follows Rebel Ice as the seventh in S. L. Viehl's addictive Stardoc series. In the previous episode, series heroine Dr. Cherijo Torin lost her memory - though none of her medical and surgical skills - after a brutal attack on the planet Akkabarr, where she had crash landed after escaping from slavers. There Cherijo (now known as Jarn) joined the untouchable skela and fought and healed alongside them in a successful uprising. The end of that adventure reunited Jarn on Jorenian ship Sunlace with the husband Duncan Reever and daughter Marel who are strangers to her.

In fact everyone on Sunlace is strange to Jarn as is their way of life - and their adulation of Cherijo (a person Jarn is beginning to strongly dislike). While Jarn - and those around her (not used to seeing her armed to the teeth, subservient towards males, or as a meat eater) - are still struggling with culture shock, a message arrives from the Hsktskt Faction homeworld of Vtaga, demanding Cherijo's help in fighting a plague there - victims suffer 'progressive psychotic delusions' that lead them to violence and death. Though there is little sympathy on the Sunlace for the problems faced by this culture of vicious reptilian slavers, the Hsktskt use both a stick (the threat to resume hostilities with the League) and a carrot (the offer to abandon their slaver operations) to underline their request for help.

So of course, the Sunlace heads to Vtaga, where Cherijo/Jarn, Duncan and small Marel have the usual exciting adventures and Cherijo once again demonstrates that her compassion as a healer transcends her feelings for the monstrosities she heals. Jarn meets old friends and old enemies, recognizing neither, falls for Duncan in a way that Cherijo never did, and - as always - makes a brilliant diagnosis of a most unusual, man-made ailment. She also learns - from 'Chief brain meddler Maggie' who raised her as a surrogate mother, of a new black crystal threat to the universe - which will clearly be fodder for future episodes in an imaginative series.

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