McAllister's debut novel--about an American nurse in Vietnam assigned to a secret CIA operation whose chief weapons are ESP...

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DREAM BABY

McAllister's debut novel--about an American nurse in Vietnam assigned to a secret CIA operation whose chief weapons are ESP and precognition--is built around an interesting idea, but the result is sadly overblown and pretentious in the telling. Young, idealistic Lieutenant Mary Damico is sent to Vietnam as a trauma-unit nurse. But after only a few months of blood and gore and broken young bodies, she becomes a nervous wreck and drug addict. Part of the problem is that she can actually see the deaths of her patients before they happen--and see, too, the moment of their wounding in the field. After telling all this to a mysterious soldier named Steve, she is whisked away to a secret CIA base camp in the Central Highlands, run by a cruel Colonel named Bucannon. There, she finds a unit of men with ""gifts"" like hers--men who can ""see"" the bullets coming (and dodge them), read each other's minds, etc. This unit--with Steve and Mary among them--is then sent on an outlandishly improbable mission: dressed as Russian agricultural experts, they are to travel north, dig up plastic explosives left over from the French defeat, and blow up the Red Dikes near Hanoi, causing flooding that will end the war. Naturally, they fail, but Steve and Mary and others are able to escape their own deaths by ""dematerializing"" on the battlefield and finding their way--possessed now of strange supernatural powers--to an American carrier. Told in the form of a fictional tape transcripts (which depend heavily on McAllister's reading of oral histories published since the war): a muddled, overlong, and confusing first novel--part science fiction, part war/adventure story, but mostly folderol.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1989

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1989