Near-future quasi-sequel to Better Angels (1999), about a space-fungus that, when ingested by humans, produces cosmically connected mental development, and what-all besides.
Readers, to their probable confusion, eventually will learn that the actions of Better Angels took place in a universe parallel to that described herein. First, however, meteorite fanatic Michael Miskulin and biologist Susan Yamada explore a South American tepui (isolated tableland—think The Lost World) only to stumble across a dreadful scene: an entire native tribe slaughtered by troops with modern weapons—the same fungus-worshipping tribe that, in Angels, communed with Jacinta Larkin and vanished through a wormhole. Four children survive; Michael and Susan bring them to Paul, Jacinta’s brother, where they soon show evidence of telepathy and other remarkable mental powers. The meteorite that held the tribe’s attention contains the same space-fungus, whose properties are so remarkable that various groups—generals, artists, religious fanatics, scientists—want to get their hands on it. At the same time, somebody mounts a series of well-organized robberies aimed at stealing meteorites from reputable collections around the world; and somebody (else?) attempts to assassinate the children. Trying to figure out what’s going on is good-cop Jim Brescoll, the NSA director, and Michael, determined to prove his panspermia theories. Meanwhile, as Darla Pittman investigates the fungus in a secret military lab, raiders strike; Darla, shot multiple times, touches the fungus culture . . . and miraculously survives.
Though Hendrix tends to gnaw his ideas to bits, he has a genuine knack for writing snappy, realistic action sequences; pity he obliges his readers to slog through what seems like hundreds of pages of exposition to reach them.