THE HARROWING by Ainslie Skinner


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When neurologist Philip Elliot endures a car accident and eight-day coma, he comes out of it able--naturally--to read minds. Discomforted by this for years, he at last transfers from neurosurgery to an ESP research center near London which seeks ""the inevitable evolutionary refining of the brain."" And when he decides to vacation on a Scottish isle with a haunted cottage, Elliot is barely indoors before he's violently invaded by the invisible spirit. . . which turns out to be not a ghost but ESP waves from Annie Craigie, an autistic adult ""wild child"" whose paranormal abilities dwarf Elliot's. Then, after losing a mind-reading duel with Annie, and driven senseless by her wild talent (she often can't control its whiplash power), Elliot persuades this nearly nonverbal vixen to undergo treatment. So, at his research center she's wired up to varied machines--like a computer named Algernon, which puts Annie through childhood and adolescence in forced maturation: her hormones go berserk (she enjoys entering men's minds and causing sexual arousal), and finally she admits that she has healing powers. By now, however, the military has gotten into the act--and the Russians, who secretly control the institute's director. In fact, not only do the Russians have an out-of-body spy who has been kept in a sensory deprivation tank for nine years and is now vacuuming the English team for its secrets; they also have an ESP machine! And it's up to Elliot's team to awaken the Western world's mental powers--hence, the ""harrowing."" All this has about as much to do with genuine parapsychology as Star Wars does with the space program-but there's some fun (Elliot's an acerbically attractive type) amid the hand-me-down inanities here.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by Atheneum