CRADLE OF SPLENDOR by Patricia Anthony
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Anthony's new venture (Happy Policeman, 1994, etc.) is set in a near-future Brazil whose president, Aha Maria Bonfim, has engineered a social and economic miracle. No longer are women beaten or children killed in the streets, and astonishing technological advances have transformed the economy--maybe, as a global assortment of diplomats and bigwigs gathers to witness Brazil's attempt to put a rocket into orbit, antigravity has even been invented. Suspicious, envious, and perplexed, the US believes that Brazil has captured a UFO and, cloaked in UN approval, it prepares to invade. The drama that unfolds--impossible to summarize adequately--embodies many diverse points of view. Artist Dolores Sims, Ana Maria's former lover and once a CIA agent, knows the truth about Henrique Freitas--Svengali, pervert, former psychic surgeon and suspected by the US of having been absorbed by an alien from another dimension. Whatever the truth, Freitas scares Edson Carvaiho; Ana Maria's drunken chief spymaster, Carvalho is haunted by his knowledge of the people who vanish into Freitas's eerie chamber, a doorway to--somewhere. NASA's Roger Lintenberg, sent by the CIA to observe the rocket launch and investigate UFO activity, is astounded to find that the UFOs are real. Indeed, Roger, imprisoned by CIA assassin McNatt, begins to realize that Freitas isn't an alien at all. The merciless McNatt himself contends that Freitas's awesome powers lie within us all. Finally, thousands of innocents die as the invasion gets under way, even though the Brazilian army offers no resistance, while Freitas hurls beautiful yet harmless UFOs at the invaders and, casting aside every restraint, rapes, tortures, and murders his own son. Mesmerizing, full of terrible insights, deeply disturbing, and quite unforgettable, confirming Anthony as the powerhouse of 1990s science fiction.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ace/Berkley