- Publisher: Bantam Books; No Edition Listed edition (1972)
- ASIN: B00KQPJBNQ
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,503,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Flesh in the Furnace Paperback – 1972
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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In the distant future, a vast majority of human beings have left Earth to live on other planets. Most never return, but one person who did was Pertos Godelhausser. Born on another world, he moved to Earth to make money. His only companion is Sebastian, a mentally handicapped man with a troubled past. They make a living with the help of the Furnace: an alien machine that can create living puppets out of synthetic flesh. The central puppet is Bitty Belina, whose small stature and pretty face hide a cold personality.
The best compliment that can be given to this book is that, in spite of its short length, it's full of some interesting ideas. It's also filled with some delightfully bizarre visual imagery. The creators of the Furnace, for example, are described as a race of twelve foot tall spider-lizards called the Vonopoens. While the story as a whole is obviously pretty far fetched, it moves at a fast pace. And since you could probably finish the book in a day or two if you made the time, it makes for a pretty easy read.
Considering this was written fairly early in Koontz's career, it was also fun to look for things that would become common in his later work. There are at least couple of examples. Pertos, for instance, thinks of himself as god-like. Although the character isn't necessarily evil, this is a common trait amongst villains in Koontz books.
Most of the problems with the book could also probably be attributed to the fact that it was written early in Koontz's career. He was still experimenting and hadn't found his voice yet. Since it was also one of about nine books he had published in 1972, I can't help but suspect he may have been on a tight schedule when he was writing it. That might explain why a few of the subplots don't pay off as well as they could have. The best example of this would be the Holistian Pearl. It's described as an alien artifact that can send images of all the places its been into the mind of the person who's holding it. After the story shifts to Sebastian's point of view, the Pearl disappears from the story for long stretches at a time. While it does play a part in the book's ending, it just doesn't pay off the way you might expect considering the importance placed on it when it was introduced.
In conclusion, while the book has some intersting qualities, it's not a lost classic. Indeed, it's been out of print for a long time now, and it can be expensive to buy used copies online. If you're a big fan of Dean Koontz, the book is worth reading just to say you've read it. Casual readers would be better off checking out his more popular books first.