A new venture, a sort of fantasy eco-parable, from the author of Mentats of Dune (2014, with Kevin Anderson, etc.).
Following a 2040s war that pitted corporate America against an alliance of environmental activists, anarchists and scientists, the New World has become the Green States of America. Under the absolute though relatively benevolent dictatorship of Chairman Rahma Popal, the human population has been confined to gigantic cities, pollution is gone, and environmental remediation proceeds apace. Unfortunately, relocations are often forcible, Greenpol (the environment police) commits the occasional mass murder, and it’s compulsory to carry the chairman’s The Little Green Book. And the corporations are merely cowed, not defeated. Renegade scientist Dylan Bane lurks in a huge cavern, plotting revolution with either Eurika (Europe-Africa) or hostile, nuclear-weaponed Panasia. Joss Stuart and Kupi Landau are friends as well as lovers. Their task involves using a Janus Machine to restore blighted environments; Kupi directs the machine’s black (dark energy–powered) cannon to disintegrate derelict landscapes and pollutants before Jason sprays fast-growing, ecology-restoring new plants from the machine’s green cannon. Having been an eco-warrior and Rahma’s lover, Kupi is already disaffected. Jason’s own doubts about the chairman’s green dictatorship are growing. Half the book drifts by before a leaky old Janus Machine explodes, disintegrating and then reassembling Jason into a part human, part plant, part dark-energy being, with powers he himself doesn’t understand. It’s easy to grasp where Herbert is going with all this without becoming immersed in the feeble plot, mushy characters or wretchedly limp writing—a facile, almost apathetic style cultivated during his long-term collaboration with Anderson.
Does anybody still remember the Herbert who wrote such lively and engaging yarns as Sudanna, Sudanna?