Dick's death a little over a week ago may mean that this will be his last published novel; and, ironically, it is the one in which he most completely abandons sciencefiction for mainstream theological writing. At the center of this hardworking, emotional, doleful drama—"a fictionalized biography of Bishop Pike of California"—is charismatic Bishop Tim Archer, a man of compulsive beliefs and singleminded enthusiasms. Viewed through the eyes of narrator/daughter-in-law Angel, Tim becomes involved with ailing, unstable, barbiturate-addict Kirstin (of whom Tim's son Jeff is also secretly enamored). And when some new pre-Christian documents come to light, Tim and Kirstin leave for Paris to pore over the translations—whence it emerges that the (c. 200 B.C.) documents incorporate sayings attributed to Jesus. . . plus (after John Allegro) proof of a sacred mushroom cult. So Tim's faith in Jesus-as-Messiah soon crumbles—and he becomes further undone when son Jeff (unable to cope with his incestuously-guilty feelings) kills himself: Tim and Kirstin will eventually claim that Jeff is signaling to them from the spirit world. Tim resigns from the church to join a think tank. Kirstin, while editing a dreadful book about Jeff's other-worldly activities, follows Jeff to suicide when she learns that she has cancer. And finally, shocked and distraught, Tim abandons mysticism, heading for Israel in search of the magic mushrooms, only to die in the desert. . . whereupon Kristin's likable, crazy son Bill announces that Tim's spirit has returned to share his (Bill's) brain. Thoughtful, elegantly constructed work, with lots of erudite conversations in the Dick manner—and though the characters remain shadows against their tangled, gloom & doom, religious/mystical backdrop, curious readers who recall Pike's mysterious career should find this a quietly stimulating, if thoroughly depressing, reconstruction.

Pub Date: May 28, 1982

ISBN: 0679734449

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Timescape/Pocket Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1982

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...


This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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