BUGS by Theodore Roszak


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This first novel by society-watcher Roszak (The Making of a Counter Culture, Person/Planet) is a bizarre, fanciful, near-foolish--but engagingly gutsy--cross between a techno-disaster novel, a mystical parable, and The Exorcist. It all hinges, tenuously, on a child's misunderstanding: Dr. Thomas Heller of the National Center for Data Control publicly admits that his super-computer still has some ""bugs"" in it, and a little girl named Daphne imagines these bugs as the insect sort. A harmless mistake? So you'd think. But Daphne, you see, is no ordinary child: she's been raised by a mystical mother, and she has powers (via Nature) to make things materialize. So the very bugs which Daphne has imagined are soon actually inside the computers! They're solid as marble all the way through, with no innards--but they can bite, traveling electronically to data-banks everywhere, chewing up wires and microchips. And it eventually becomes clear that Nature is using Daphne to fight the evil of computer-ism. (Says a consulting mystic: the bugs ""are there in the service of God--to ward off evil. . . . They make us afraid, but they are not evil. The evil is what they defend against."") Finally, then, huge areas of civilization are collapsing as workers fear to use the computers--while a mad scientist and a defrocked priest try to transfer Daphne's power of materialization into the priest's brain. Wild mumbojumbo? Perhaps. But, though the novel lacks a sympathetic central hero, Roszak definitely gets points for chutzpah--as he carries his central idea to its natural apocalyptic conclusion, all the while layering the proceedings with mystical notions that reach back to the earliest golem-monster tales. And while few will find this fully satisfying, various sorts of readers--mystics, futurologists, computer-haters--will probably go along with Roszak for a bumpy but frequently fascinating ride.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1981
ISBN: 0595297633
Publisher: Doubleday