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The premise of this book is exciting! Then you read it and realize it's barely worth remembering
on November 21, 2011
The premise of this book is exciting! Then you read it and realize it's barely worth remembering. A volcano in Yellowstone blows up, the scene switches to Pompeii for the two thousand year celebration of Mt. Vesuvius's 79 A.D. eruption. What a start! What's going to happen next? The answer is pretty much nothing. I know Frederik Pohl is a science fiction grand master, but he drops the ball with this novel because he fails to run with the idea and create a classic novel.
The empathy I felt for the characters was nil. There wasn't any character development for any of the book's participants. Basically, the book is another terrorist motif inspired novel set in the year 2079. The story's main characters: Brad Sheridan, Brian Bossert, a.k.a. Gerda Fleming go through some interesting times working for the Pompeii theme park, but fail to excite the reader. The security people of the park and elsewhere seem to be omniscient-like without any validation of their powers. The theme park itself becomes less desirous when you learn that most of the park is actually virtual reality.
What happened in America after the Yellowstone eruption is left to the imagination. Mr. Pohl lets the reader know that America is no longer a super-power and the dollar is almost worthless, but that's it! We know people like Brad Sheridan indentured themselves to countries in Europe, but not why. It seems to me that more time should have been spent on the events after the U.S.A. eruption to set the seed for the exodus of Americans to Europe. Why would they sell themselves with a bond to pay off?
Then we have the issue of the Pompeii Flu. The pernicious virus seems to have originated from the "Stans" of Russia. These are the new countries that separated from Russia and became criminal safe havens. I'm surprised that James Bond didn't make an appearance! Nothing involving the terrorist and their activities is original, or unpredictable. Paraphrasing Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront "This book coulda been a contender"!