KALIMANTAN by Lucius Shepard

KALIMANTAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Uncharacteristically rambling, confused stab at the heart-of-darkness theme, from the acclaimed author of Life During Wartime (1987) and several story collections. British expatriate Barnett befriends a young American wastrel, MacKinnon, who disappears into the interior of Borneo and later is reported to be experimenting with dangerous native psychoactive drugs. The Dutch doctor, old Tenzer, sends a request for Barnett's help. When Barnett arrives on the scene after an eerie, portentous journey, both Tenzer and the waidan, the ghost of a female shaman apparently murdered by MacKinnon, urge Barnett to take MacKinnon's drug, enter the spirit world, and kill MacKinnon to halt his awesome and still-growing power. No real harm will be done, the waidan assures Barnett, since the drug confers spirit immortality. Barnett takes the drug and emerges not in the spirit world but into another reality containing, for some reason, a huge crashed alien spaceship and an incomprehensible alien city, both long abandoned. Barnett eventually kills MacKinnon, only to learn that he's been double-crossed by both Tenzer and the waidan. What with all the tedious, meandering philosophical padding: a confusing and uneasy hybrid of fantasy and sf, with the ideas not even half-thought-out.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1992
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: St. Martin's