THE ASCENSION FACTOR by Frank & Bill Ransom Herbert
Kirkus Star


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More life-and-death struggles on planet Pandora: this final Herbert/Ransom collaboration was substantially drafted by Herbert and written largely by Ransom. The first of the series, Destination: Void, was written by Herbert alone and probed the nature of consciousness; the first collaboration, The Jesus Incident (1979), pondered religion and the meaning of worship; this one, like The Lazarus Effect (1983), has no real philosophical basis. The story, by now, is a familiar one. Some 25 years after Lazarus, Raja Flattery controls Pandora by monopolizing its businesses and withholding food supplies; his brutal and ruthless private army crushes all revolts. He diverts vital resources into building a spaceship in which he intends to escape Pandora altogether, and keeps Pandora's native kelp, a collective intelligence (and potential foe) when fully developed, divided and immature to prevent its becoming conscious. Naturally, there are resisters to Flattery's iron rule: renegade newsman Ben Ozette, who makes clandestine broadcasts denouncing Flattery; Dwarf MacIntosh, who refuses to further kelp's destruction; and Queers Twisp, who leads Buddhist-like independents. Their mutual dilemma: Flattery has rigged it so that if he dies, the kelp dies too. The details are fresh but the territory familiar. The style here is undeniably different also: Ransom's technique is narrative, relaxed, rather poetic; Herbert's was vigorous, dramatic, harsh. Still, the fans won't pass this one up.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1987
Publisher: Putnam