Soggy Serial

Chuck Simon is the most powerful telekinetic in the world. Known colloquially as Psi-Man, the U.S. government has put him at the top of the list of people they’d like to see either A) working as a sanctioned political assassin, or B) otherwise simply dead.

But Simon is not just a telekinetic time bomb; he is a religious man and a pacifist with a sharp sense of morality and diligence. And most of all, he doesn’t want to be a tool for the government. Simon’s not a  “superhuman muscle-bender like in the movies.” He’s a normal guy with abnormal abilities. And he just wants to be left alone.

But like Bruce Banner, trouble has a habit of finding him wherever he goes. In his latest adventure he stumbles upon a group of eco-terrorists who intend to blow up a biochemical weapons facility in Boulder, Colorado.

Eco-terrorism is on the rise in the year 2021 and the world is a different place than it was during the Monkey Wrench Gang era. Wars and environmental disasters have encased the earth in a suffocating toxic bubble. These days cancer is pandemic, a new ice age is just around the corner, and “Dangerous Breathing Days” inspire people to stay home in bed.

Everybody’s trying to figure out how to make the world a better place. The eco-terrorists are aggressively righteous, and the government is inevitably sneaky. In the middle of this tug of war is good ol’ Chuck Simon.

Like the first book, Deathscape contains a fair amount of jibber-jabber about religion and personal accountability. There are also some funny bits and excellent bursts of writing scattered about (if you want to know what it’s like to jump from an exploding building, this is the place to go). And on top of everything else, there are giant mutant bears too. But over all, this isn’t much of a novel. The writing is (mostly) flat, characters are yanked around like they’re attached to strings, and the story is inert. Not until the last chapter are we given any incentive to read the next book in the series. And that’s a major goof for serial fiction.

[Psi-Man: Deathscape / By Peter David / First Ace Printing: March 2000 / ISBN: 9780441007103]

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