DAMAGED BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION by Alan Felyk

DAMAGED BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this sci-fi series starter, a celebrated journalist/author gets romantically involved with two women as all three become embroiled in a cosmic gambit to save the universe.

In the late 1960s, Paul Tomenko is a Colorado counterculture writer who pens a bestselling book when he’s barely out of college. However, the fact that he's on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list costs him his college sweetheart—the ambitious, fiercely intellectual geneticist Margaret “Maggie Mae” Monahan. She has a shot at working for a government contractor, and Paul’s proximity could ruin her security clearance. Brokenhearted in the Rockies, Paul is consoled when his publisher sends him a new secretary, Alina “Allie” Briarsworth, a “ravishing beauty.” During a near-death experience, Paul has contact with God—at least the current version, named Eloah—and gains divine insight. And it isn’t good news; it turns out that the cosmos operates on Hinduist principles of creation and destruction, with God replaced each time by an ascended human soul. A DNA glitch in Neanderthal prehistory—and meddling by insectoid aliens—stopped the cycle. Paul, Maggie Mae, and Allie (who starts writing mystic sci-fi blockbusters that, unbeknownst to her, reveal the truth) are crucial to restoring the universe. But with whom will Paul make his ultimate love connection—on whatever plane of existence? Felyk (Damaged Right Out of the Box, 2012, etc.) starts his Infinity Trilogy with a book that salutes Kurt Vonnegut–style fabulism and nods to the trippier sci-fi novels of Robert A. Heinlein. The mind-blasting premise sounds like an electric-Kool-Aid-acid-test of patience, but the author tells it plainly, with wryly melancholy humor and nostalgic mile markers throughout the years; Tom Petty, Tom Snyder, and President George H.W. Bush make unobtrusive cameos. The story eventually vaults into a transhumanist future and bizarre religious ruminations that even Philip K. Dick might have found a bit much. Even so, it remains essentially grounded as a love-triangle tale even if the spirited female characters tend to be male-wish-fulfillment ideals—complete with a recurring avatar of Paul’s Hollywood screen-actress crush, Katharine Ross.

A love story meets theology meets The Matrix—but still comprehensible, for all that.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-973434-27-6
Page count: 365pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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