MISSION by Patrick Tilley


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Supposedly the contents of an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll, this gimmicky theological novel presents the testimony, circa 1981, of Manhattan lawyer Leo Resnick, 35, whose doctor/girlfriend Miriam one night calls him down to the morgue at her hospital to see something. They've received a body: longhaired, Semitic, with what look like stigmata on hands and feet, and with side wounds. Has this man been crucified? Hours later, the stiff disappears into thin air. Well, it's ""The Man"" all right--as becomes clear when He reappears to Leo a few days later, thrown out of time, He explains, from 29 A.D. to 1981. He's dodging, with some time-warp tricks, the Powers of Darkness (known as ""'Brax"") who are on his tail; and He's totally willing to let Leo in on a few theosophical secrets. Such as: that He's actually an angel, like Gabriel and Michael; that he travels in ""longships"" (UFOs); that he took on the body of a Palestinian carpenter named Joshua only to find it a much heavier scene than He'd counted on; and that nowadays His spirit is more genuinely to be found in the heart of a Sufi than in that of a Jew or Christian. Tilley also throws in a little Star-Wars manicheanism: ""Man has been the target of 'Brax's negative influence since Earth fell into the hands of the Secessionists. We have been subjected to a relentless bombardment that has pounded the Celestial stowaway inside each of us into insensibility. It is this baleful barrage that we have to resist, with the help of The Power of the Presence."" So, all in all, Leo and his girl obviously have a big, very unmanageable revelation on their hands. And, despite some modern-dress cat-and-mouse with the 'Braxian agents, the main emphasis here is on the gospel according to Tilley: diatribes against porn movies, violence, urban lovelessness, etc. This is basically a tract, then--Rudolf Steiner, sort of, in running shoes--and only for theologically savvy, revisionism-minded readers of hip/whimsical fantasy.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1981
Publisher: Little, Brown