Lesbian Review of Books, Vol IV, No. 4, Summer 1998
Initially, I despaired of dreams being used yet again as a plot device to reveal the fears and anxieties of the conflicted protagonist. But in the case of Night Vision, the dreams really are an integral part of the plot development, being the means of communication between alien and human.
Yes, an alien visitor, Sirena, makes communication with the lesbian nation, embodied in the persona of Julia Madison, an IRS worker in Fresno. This sci-fi-ish story can be classified as speculative fiction set in present time.
At first look, okay, another alien visitor visits earth only to be misunderstood, tortured, and hounded to death. But in the skillful hands of Laura Adams [Karin Kallmaker], the alien’s visit becomes an inspired mechanism for an engrossing tale that is also a delightful romp among the foibles of the lesbian nation.
When Julia Madison consults a therapist about her strange nocturnal symptoms from Sirena’s communications, we get a delicious poke at the talking cure. “I wasn’t sure my budget could handle a therapist not determined to cure me” (25).
Regarding Berkeley and why she moved to Fresno, Julia reports “dating too many women who always talked about getting in touch with their feelings but never did until they were screaming at me” (45).
Adams makes good use of the California Central Valley setting, invoking the maddening winds known as the Santa Anas to set mood and influence character development. The construction of the conclusion exhibits another deft touch of the writer’s art in a chilling brush with reality that lends veracity.
But where author Adams really shines is what she does for love. The sex scenes are out of this world. Sex scenes to die for. They are not the usual Naiad formula romance that often reads like a how-to-do-it manual, (although instruction certainly has its value and usefulness). The first consists of compression images of memory and sex all rolled into one experience: “The scene expanded until I was the center of it … I dropped into my most sensuous moments, the sound of moans and gasps, ooing and begging all around me…I tried to shut off the screen, but…she…was spilling my memories of sex and orgasms and foreplay. (58)
The next one manages to top even that with an inventive ménage. It involves past memory of Maddy’s former lover Mari, the alien Sirena, and Maddy’s present human lover, J.T. Maddy not only experiences the other three but also can have mirrored back to her what they are experiencing. Adams manages to simulate a first-time experience yet accompanies it with the unabashed pleasure of multiple experiences. “J.T. stirred next to me a while later. She kissed my shoulder and then nibbled my ear. “Nice to share a dream with you.” I smiled, but was glad she couldn’t see me blushing. For me it had practically been an orgy with memories of Mari mixing J.T. in the here and now–and the awareness of another presence, watching and enjoying vicariously. (62)
Altogether, this is a fine tale well told. Laura Adams … is an able practitioner of the writer’s craft.[Review of First Edition from Naiad Press.]