DEATH ARMS by K.W. Jeter


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Jeter returns to the grim, relentlessly ugly near-future of Dr. Adder (1984) and The Glass Hammer (1985), where death and destruction are the norm, and ordinary human feelings surface rarely, if ever; it first appeared in England in 1987. Los Angeles stands abandoned and decaying because of the Fear (an artificially generated psychic impulse, we learn later) when R.D. Legger arrives with vague ideas of learning the fate of his assassin-father. At once a series of weird characters seize hold of Legger: Dortz and Anne seem to know something's going on, but never get around to telling Legger: Nathan Keight, a ""psychonaut,"" is murdered while trying to hand Legger a manuscript: the children Rachel and Buddy have horrid psychic powers; the mysterious Strezliczek may or may not be controlling everything. It emerges, finally that some puppet-master bad guys are plotting to take over the world by killing off the sentient human collective unconscious, thus destroying free will; Strezliczek, trying to stop them, falls victim to Legger's father's psychic powers; Dortz tags along, vaguely hoping to be of help. The absurd, rather upbeat ending seems to have been tacked on as an afterthought. If you resonate to Jeter's gloomy, oppressive obsessions, and can overlook the absence of backdrop and characters, you'll probably enjoy this. Others will prefer Jeter in a less single-minded mode (Infernal Devices; Farewell Horizontal).

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's