HEROES DIE by Matthew Woodring Stover


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Dubious sf/fantasy hybrid from the author of the paperback Iron Dawn. Stover’s future Earth is run by and for the entertainment networks, with society locked into a rigid and unforgiving caste system. Coexisting with Earth but in another dimension is planet Overworld, with its stereotypical medieval sword-and-sorcery fantasy scenario. Entertainers from Earth can be projected into Overworld, their adventures then relayed back for vicarious VR enjoyment. So on Earth, Actor Hari Michaelson does what his boss, Arturo Kollberg, chairman of San Francisco Studio, tells him; on Overworld, Hari becomes Caine, a dreaded and highly successful assassin. But now also on Overworld, the Emperor Ma’elKoth, together with his henchman, the supernally skillful swordsman Count Berne, has achieved supreme power by mounting a successful pogrom against “Aktirs,” thus threatening Earthly profits and the engineering of new dramas. Kollberg therefore orders Hari back to Overworld, where his mission will be to kill Ma’elKoth and rescue his ex-wife, the Actor Shanna Leighton, trapped on Overworld in one of her two identities, as the revolutionary Pallas Ril or the resistance fighter Simon Jester. Unfortunately for Hari, Ma’elKoth is already aware of Caine and Pallas/Simon and has devised his own plans accordingly. So, can Caine kill his enemies, survive a voyage of painful self-discovery, and win back his lovely wife? Shallow and unsurprising, a furious, gory hack-’em-up with—even for this subgenre—a high expletive count. Stover does, however, work hard to develop his characters. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-345-42104-3
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998


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