PARADISE I by Alan Harrington
Kirkus Star


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Harrington's messy, intermittently powerful novel juggles narrative viewpoints and time-perspectives to look into a lovely but sinister future. Early in the 21st century a period of growing physical and spiritual pollution is crowned by a brutal ""Truth Plague,"" a let-it-all-hang-out mania that starts as a public relations gimmick and soon strikes down ordinary decency and indecency alike. At this point several avenues of technological salvation open up to mankind, most dramatically an immortality serum and a means of cryogenic preservation. Society collapses in frenzied competition for the precious serum. Enter Paul Peacock, public relations genius and long-time student of the disease called humanity. Packing off the first serum recipient (inoffensive PR hack Arthur Franklin) into cryogenic safekeeping, he embarks on his ""Public Relations of Death."" The gist of his scheme is to defuse the immortality bomb by keeping most of the population literally on ice until the serum is more plentiful. The sleeper is then awakened into a ""Paradise"" in which Peacock rules supreme, brought back to memory of his former self by an ingenious brainwashing program, and sent off into an artificially maintained never-never land of his own choosing. Against all odds, a remnant of the Truth Plague party has started an anti-immortality, anti-Peacock campaign. At this juncture Arthur Franklin is reawakened--75 years after being frozen--and prepared for a stage-managed voyage back into his own memories, supposedly in order to establish the truth about the intentions of Peacock. As both novelist and social extrapolator, Harrington is jarringly uneven and prone to a sort of naive fascination with his reams of invention. But the force and ingenuity of his design can't be denied--exasperating, impressive, and important enough to reach beyond the sci-fi hardcore to a mainstream audience.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown