SACRED FIRE by Isi Beller


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 From psychoanalyst and clinician Beller comes this medical thriller set in the not too distant future, a time when the virus that causes AIDS has mutated into a new retrovirus that literally burns its victims alive in fever. The disease--called Sacred Fire, after a medieval plague--has decimated the population and now threatens the entire country. As a result, a rigorously repressive government has taken hold of America. Men are forced to wear devices that inhibit their sexual desire, while women are forbidden to bear children; instead, fetuses are gestated in controlled environments outside the womb. Dr. Paul Verne, a brilliant biologist who discovered the SF virus, prefers to work within the system even though he disapproves of many aspects of the governmental regulations. But then he meets Clara Hastings, a lovely young Bio (a term used to distinguish the new generation of babies from their Utero predecessors) who is working for a secret resistance organization. Clara is assigned to give Paul a message from his former mentor, Joseph Milner. As Paul becomes more attracted to her, he joins the ranks of the subversive group. Naturally, they are hunted by the government, the Mafia, and a host of other factions, and there are separations aplenty before they finally come together to conceive a child--a heretical act that could cost them their lives. Beller is knowledgeable about matters of science, but he is woefully deficient in the tricks of narrative suspense; the novel plods along, weighed down by endless quasi-philosophical musings weakly disguised as conversations. The characters never come to life; many are killed before they have even come to matter to us. And the writing is pedestrian at best; at worst, it is pompous and maudlin. All in all, Sacred Fire is more smoke than flame. (First printing of 50,000)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55970-226-5
Page count: 388pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1994