I think I read this sometime in the 1970s. The main character is a woman. As the title implies the dream snake is used as a, psychotropic. The user I think keeps it as a pet inducing the little snake to bite. The bite then results in an altered state of consciousness which then enhances the heroine's ability to succeed. I vaguely remember the snake may have been colored emerald and ruby. I remember it reminded me of the gentle tiny decay and ring necked snakes I came across as a boy who was always exploring in the woods of western Pennsylvania.

  • What about this story is scifi or fantasy? – Valorum Nov 25 '17 at 17:47
  • Well, for starters the dreamsnake – Eric Nov 25 '17 at 18:12
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    So every story about a hallucinogenic experience is on-topic? – Valorum Nov 25 '17 at 18:40
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    Valorum that wasn't my point. Though I understand your question. There is as far as I know no existing snake on this planet whose bite is known and used to produce a psychic state. So I 'm fairly comfortable calling the concept of a "dreamsnake " at the very least fantasy. Especially as it turns out the story takes place in a post apocalyptic future. – Eric Nov 25 '17 at 19:04

Could it be the Hugo- and Nebula-award winning 1978 novel entitled Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre?

The novel follows a healer on her quest to replace her "dreamsnake", a small snake whose venom is capable of inducing torpor and hallucinations in humans, akin to those produced by drugs such as LSD or heroin.

It was based on an earlier novellete, "Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand", in 1973 which also won a Nebula award, but probably wasn't published singly.

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  • Hey star that was fast. Did you read this or find it on line? Is there a first print date, or ISBN no so I can check it out. No problem giving you credit for a right answer. I'd like to wait since I only posted it five minutes before your answer. – Eric Nov 25 '17 at 17:59
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    I've read it before as part of a broader effort to read Hugo/Nebula winning works. It was first published in 1978, ISBN 0-395-26470-7. It was an expansion of an earlier novelette but that probably wouldn't have been published on its own but rather as part of an anthology. – starpilotsix Nov 25 '17 at 18:00
  • ISFDB is your friend. The novelette was published in Analog. – mkennedy Nov 26 '17 at 15:28
  • @mkennedy True, what I meant though was that it probably wasn't ever published as a separate book, so if the OP remembered the story as a novel in the sense of a physically independent story, the 1973 version was probably not the one they were looking for. (ISFDB is great but not always exhaustive so it not being listed there as a separate book doesn't mean it wasn't ever released that way - still, separately publishing novelettes like that, even award-winners, was rare, I think) – starpilotsix Nov 26 '17 at 16:16

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