DEVINE WAR by Dennis R. Caro


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Oddball, semicomic interplanetary war yarn, from the author of the paperback The Man in the Dark Suit (1980). General Dancer hopes to start a rebellion on planet Freehold; superspy and sometime ambassador JoAnn Devine determines to stop him. Meanwhile, back at imperial HQ, the various wheels of a disorganized, wacky bureaucracy gear up to deal with the situation. Things go wrong from the start. A company of soldiers, dropped on Freehold to meet the rebel threat, is wiped out by its own mine field, leaving one survivor along with his partner, a telepathic lioness who's contemptuous of all things human. So, the bureaucrats order an ancient airplane/spaceship de-mothballed, refurbished, and sent to Freehold; predictably, it crashes. JoAnn sets a trap for Dancer's descending spaceship, but is unable to spring it. In the basement of the HQ building, however, a computer--directed by the retiring bureaucrat chief, who dies while linked to it--goes mad and sends a hypnotized underling stalking the corridors in search of his/its old foe--JoAnn Devine. Soon, the computer takes over the HQ; the surprised bureaucrats, whose computerized desks talk impertinently and sometimes even help, fight back. There are encouraging signs of talent in the weird but lovable characters, believable situations, fluid writing, and humorous touches. What's conspicuously lacking is overall coherency and a sense of purpose; the various plots drift pleasantly along but never enmesh with any urgency. So: patchily amusing work but a long way short of absorbing.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1986
Publisher: Arbor House