Ill Wind

Kevin J. Anderson, Author, Doug Beason, With Forge $23.95 (383p) ISBN 978-0-312-85760-8
A promising disaster scenario fizzles as Anderson and Beason (coauthors of Assemblers of Infinity and The Trinity Paradox) succumb to lightweight plotting, facile characterization and an apparent need to allude to as many pop-cultural artifacts as possible. When a panicky oil company tries to clean up a major spill in San Francisco Bay by dropping genetically engineered oil-eating microbes on it, the little organisms go berserk and start devouring most of the world's long-chain polycarbons (gasoline, plastics, etc.). Within the first 150 pages, this leads to a breakdown of communications and information-processing systems. From there until the end of the novel, however, affairs are basically limited to several displays of plucky ingenuity (during which one character compares the work of his group, unfavorably, to that of the Professor on Gilligan's Island). Meanwhile, an acting president and a general, independently, attempt to enforce martial law on an unwilling populace. The heroes are heroic, especially scientist Spencer Lockwood and pilots Billy Carron and Todd Severyn (the latter atoning for having unwittingly dropped the petrol-eating organism in the first place). Todd's girlfriend, Iris Shikozu, stages a post-apocalyptic rock concert at the Altamont Speedway. Almost all the chapter headings are titles of old pop songs, books or movies (Good Vibrations, The Stand, Urban Cowboy). It's possible that those who care, as Iris does, about Kansas's live comeback album will find this fascinating, but most readers are likely to feel that The End of the World As We Know It deserves better handling. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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