THE COOL WAR by Frederik Pohl


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Promising more than he delivers, veteran Pohl begins his latest novel with a fascinating future world desperately short of energy, where countries and individuals grab what they can. But since hot wars are too dangerous for everybody, and cold wars are bad for business, a cool war prevails: covert battle by sabotage (dirty tricks such as fomenting strikes, releasing plant and animal pests, distributing recipes for lethal dope, etc.), which is conducted by the bumbling but sinister Team, whose agents live royally on expense accounts charged (by computer manipulation) to the budgets of rival sabotage networks. And tongue-in-cheek Pohl (Gateway, The Age of the Pussyfoot) creates a most unlikely and original Team agent: the Reverend Hornswell ""Horny"" Hake--Unitarian minister, ex-kibbutznik, Arabic expert--whose control (""Curmudgeon"") communicates through a toilet. . . and who enjoys the perks of Team membership, suppressing his moral doubts, until he meets and falls in love with anti-Team activist Leota. Fun stuff--but Pohl soon loses his satirical edge, turning the yarn into what it started out to parody: a hectic but inspired spy-fi chase-and-rescue intrigue, with Hake dodging the bad guys (as he frees Leota from the clutches of a covetous sheik), saving a hydrogen plant, and exposing the Team over a satellite hookup. So: a splendid opening followed up by predictable or implausible suspense formulas--an uneven frolic which Pohl fans will certainly find worth a try.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Ballantine