WELCOME, CHAOS by Kate Wilhelm


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Traditional sf notions (immortality, benevolent conspiracy) against a present-day backdrop--in a realistic, somewhat bland, intermittently engrossing hybrid, expanded from Wilhelm's story ""The Winter Beach"" (in Listen, Listen, 1981). Despairing historian Lyle Taney is eagle-watching in the mountains of Oregon when amoral CIA type Hugh Lasater tries to pressure her into spying on her neighbors: kindly, bookish, polymath Saul Werther and his youthful, handsome assistant Carmen. Lyle refuses to cooperate and soon falls in love with both Werther and Carmen--but what secret are they hiding? Well, after recovering from what she thought was the flu, Lyle realizes that she's now immortal: Werther and Carmen have closed her with the serum they discovered back in Nazi Germany--a serum that, alas, kills half of those exposed to it and renders women infertile. (Werther is researching these problems while building a small, altruistic organization of immortals dedicated to keeping the serum out of government or commercial hands.) But then the Russians independently discover the serum, and spread it under the guise of a flu epidemic--perhaps as a prelude to nuclear war. So Werther & Co. must set aside their ideals and convince the US government to distribute the serum, while refraining from a disastrous nuclear strike. . . just as Lyle must persuade her personal nemesis, Lasater, to rise above merely selfish goals. Enhanced by Wilhelm's spare, limpid prose: a quiet, unexciting, serious blend of sf, morality-play, and global politics.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1983
ISBN: 1433284057
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin