Third Force

Marc Laidlaw, Author
Marc Laidlaw, Author Scribner Book Company $17.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-684-82245-7
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The newest novel by Laidlaw (Daddy's Nuke) is also the most recent contribution to the burgeoning subgenre of literary adventures based on CD-ROM games. Aside from the author's obvious craftsmanship, that is the novel's only other distinctive feature. Based in the Gadget game universe, the tale unfolds in a United States ruled by the totalitarian Republic. Laidlaw's consummate descriptions evoke a New York City that's a cross between Fritz Lang's Metropolis and contemporary Moscow, all retro in vivid shades of gray, suffused in smothering paranoia. While the evil dictator, Count Orlovsky, forces scientists to develop mind-controlling technology to subjugate any opposition, Elena Hausmann and other members of the underground resistance, known as the Third Force, try to gain control of the government's evil new technology. The plot twists and turns with the same workmanlike precision of the Republic's empty streets but salvation is decidedly deus ex machina--a comet smashes into the Earth, although not before Elena and her cohorts are whisked away by a spaceship piloted by comrades from the future. Fans of the game will no doubt be interested to see what installment arises from these ashes; wiser readers will recognize that all along there was less here than met the eye. (Oct.)
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