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NATURE'S END: The Consequences of the Twentieth Century by Whitley & James Kunetka Streiber Kirkus Star

NATURE'S END: The Consequences of the Twentieth Century


Pub Date: April 21st, 1986
Publisher: Warner

From the authors of Warday (1984), an imaginary documentary about America following a nuclear war, here is a marvelously drawn dystopian novel of the very near future (2025 A.D.), when massive overpopulation and the destruction of oxygen-giving forests have changed the atmosphere so greatly that all human life is nearing extinction. A cell of four ""convictors"" live and work together as a family. The leader is John Sinclair, a Ralph Nader type with a lot more clout, who is licensed legally to expose fraud, especially in government. He's like a wild card or superclean beagle, and his computerbased exposures are widely admired. Sinclair has come up against his toughest opponent: Gupta Singh, an Indian Sikh who believes in depopulation and is pushing a world lottery in which two billion losers, required to take a painless poison, will be removed from the ecosystem. Singh's followers have gained a majority in the US Congress and the movement toward depopulation is tidal. The four convictors interview Singh in Calcutta and find themselves facing a rather astonishing Gandhi-like character whose Eastern philosophy is death-oriented and leans much on reincarnation. As Sinclair tries to work up a ""conviction,"" his computerized deep-sketch of Singh reveals flaws, anxieties and insecurities in the leader. But Singh is very powerful and has broken Sinclair's codes; he's instantly aware of every detail of Sinclair's investigation. Then he strikes hard indeed, wiping out Sinclair's Gerovita records and permanently denying him access to his antigens. Under his Gerovita treatments, Sinclair, who is 72, has the body of a man of 46. He begins aging ever more rapidly. Then Singh rewrites the cell's tax records and turns vicious federal Tax Fraud agents onto them. Finally, the privileged cell is forced to flee into the masses, where it finds a haven among monstrous intelligence-enchanced children. The melodrama has plenty of hook and momentum, and the cautionary aspects of the novel are tellingly shown. But it is the novelty of computerization and the quality of queasy, sprawling life in horrible future cities that keeps the reader sucked to the page.