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SHIP OF THE DAMNED by James F. David


by James F. David

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-87203-8
Publisher: Forge

Clever but overlong and painfully convoluted science-fantasy thriller involving scientists, psychic powers, pocket dimensions, cold-blooded secret agents, super-secret organizations, and aircraft carriers.

In a stand-alone sequel to his novel Fragments (1997), David takes as his starting point the conspiracy-theory–friendly urban myth, the Philadelphia Experiment, in which WWII-era government experiments are said to have made a battleship disappear. Here, the USS Norfolk has been vaulted into a pocket dimension, where its surviving crew has remained, unaging and imbued with psychic powers, for the last fifty years. While one secret government agency monitors and contains the force field that holds the ship and its crew, another exists to hunt down and kill the powerful telekinetic Specials who stumble back into our world. Funded by the mysterious and extralegal Kellum Foundation, Dr. Wes Martin has conducted experiments integrating individual minds. Now, with girlfriend Elizabeth Foxworth, he attempts to help a group plagued by identical nightly dreams of a mysterious multidimensional battleship—help he gives by inserting Elizabeth into the dreamers’ minds. When the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier Nimitz is snatched out of our dimension by the psychics on the Norfolk, the government sends heartless killers Nathan Jett and Karla Compton into their dimension to terminate them, just as Elizabeth enters their dimension through dreams, later followed, bodily, by Wes. On the Norfolk, they encounter two warring factions, one led by a homicidal, mind-controlling, religious fanatic, the other by Walter Kellum, the scientist founder of the Kellum Foundation. After seemingly endless confrontations, battles, psychic showdowns, captures, escapes, Armageddonish threats, interdimensional jaunts, and plenty of dei ex machina, the good guys win.

Tying all these diverse elements together is an impressive feat—but that doesn’t help the forced characterizations, pointless plot twists, and lackluster pacing.