Character, plot, and sense yield to indulgent hyperjargon and choleric tangents in Christensen's (Mortal Belladaywic, 1987) stupefying sci-fi maelstrom. Tod Crawford, a jaded loser who has difficulty staying out of jail and keeping a measly few thousand bucks in his pocket, is ruled by his big brother, Frank. This psychotic billionaire (who usurped Tod's share of their inheritance) plans to create a new resort island near Hawaii by exploiting the geodynamics of the ocean floor with a high-powered bomb—the Egg. Tod is not enthused about Frank's epic plot, largely because he, like the reader, can never quite tell what's going on. But he is in no position to refuse—Napoleonic Frank controls his flimsy will, his whereabouts (he is involuntarily hooked up to a bacterial homing device), and his purse strings. So Tod obediently slogs through Christensen's cluttered narrative to the ends of the earth for film, weapons, sand, and other odds and ends needed to create a new land mass. There are perks along the way, though, including gruesome accidents resulting in torn flesh, snarling conflicts with the feds (they are onto Frank), an apocalyptic prophecy, and sexual encounters with all the pacing and charm of the dry heaves. Christensen's examination of a crumbling futuristic capitalist society ruled by an irresponsible, self-interested few is difficult to shake from his flatulent prose. The vocabulary is abstruse, the sentences (those that have verbs) curt, and the narrative labyrinthine. When Tod's granddad, who appears as a voice of reason at the end, discovers the pattern behind the Egg's apparently random code, he could be describing the novel itself: ``It's the pattern of someone just banging away randomly on a word processor.'' A techno-mess for only the most hardened of cyberphiles.
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