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Inept debut thriller about an evil genius out to purify the species.

To err may be human, but the Selector is not of a forgiving nature. In his view, those who err need to be eradicated—along with those unlucky enough to be physically impaired in any way. Near-sightedness will do it, so will premature baldness, walking pigeon-toed, or simply rubbing the Selector the wrong way. In point of fact, the Selector’s purification standards make Hitler’s look downright permissive, though there is a pervasive vagueness about them. “I select who lives or dies,” he arbitrarily informs one of his intended victims, giving her to understand that Selector subjectivity is all that matters. Not content with mere mass murder, the Selector is into soul-snagging as well. Precisely what this is remains equally ill-defined, except that it’s to be differentiated somehow from soul-hooking and that both are forms of advanced mind control. While the Selector doesn’t like anyone very much, he particularly despises members of the Kithkin Club, a.k.a. the Futurists. This rather bumbling but basically benign collection of seers and seeresses is ill-equipped to cope with the brilliant if megalomaniacal Selector, who can shift shapes or personas faster than you can say: Gee Wizard. Why the Selector takes so dim of a view of these wusses is also on the fuzzy-wuzzy list, which includes such items as his own derivation and the sources of his potent paranormalcy. At any rate, in self-defense, a splinter group of right-thinking Futurists bands together to take on the Selector and his wicked minions. Skirmishes, chases, a pitched battle here and there, and then finally, in what amounts to a virtual-reality Gunfight at the OK Corral, the forces of pretty good confront the forces of truly rotten. Guess who prevails.

A comic-strip cast, confused plotting, clichéd prose: Running on Instinct is runaway mindlessness.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-87344-1
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2001