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Image of the Beast / Blown: An Exorcism Mass Market Paperback – 1981
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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and that version did not include the sequel, "Blown." The original
story had its problems but "Blown" added so much satire that it
reduced the value of the original. I felt cheated to receive the
edition which I did not order, but I think I can ignore the sequel
when I want to reread certain passages. My second wife reread
the first chapter many times.
The storyline is typical enough. It is about a private detective searching for his partner's murderers. All similarities to other novels end here. P.I. Herald Childe views a snuff movie, starring his partner, who is so brutally murdered on screen that even hardened Investigator Childe takes some time-out to hurl. Childe, is driven into smog-ridden LA to pursue the killers. The smog is so bad the air has taken on greenish, foggy overtones and people need gas masks when they go out into the poisonous environment. Then a second film turns up at police headquarters, graphically portraying another murder. Various clues lead Childe to a horrific gothic mansion in the hills above LA, belonging to Baron Igescu, originally from Transylvania. Hmmmm. Here we meet the supernatural beings that make the Alien look like a kitty cat.
Among the topics Childe discusses with Igescu on this first visit, is the concept that an infinite number of universes may occupy the same space. "They can do this because they are all polarized or at right angels to each other....thus it is possible for more than one cosmos to fill the same space." The Baron speculates that there might be "walls between universes with gates or breaks in them" and that an occasional dweller of one universe might go into another. The plot thickens.
I borrowed this book from a dear, but weird friend. I liked it initially - perhaps "like" is not the word. Anyway, I was initially absorbed. About halfway through the plot weakens, and at last comes to a whimper of a conclusion.
"Blown" which follows "The Image of the Beast" is a continuation of the same terrifying fantasy world dragged out of the darkest depth of someone's unconscious mind. Mr. Farmer's? I am giving the novel 3 stars because the writing is excellent and the plot and characters are certainly original. Hard-core gothic sci-fi fans might enjoy this.
If you skim through the sex (or if you don't mind it), the plot is absorbing and the pace moves forward briskly. In Los Angeles in the 1970s, the hero Herald Childe is with a group of policemen as they view a home video of a sexy, very bloody, and very unusual homicide. Childe is a private detective, and the victim is his partner. Because the L.A. basin is beset with successive disasters of smog and flood, and because evidence is so scanty, manpower shortage compels the police department to allow Childe to investigate the murder on his own.
He encounters werewolves, a vampire, and other weird creatures. But if you are a science fiction fan who has no taste for horror, be patient. Eventually the story moves toward science fiction. That is, a sort of schlocky science fiction, closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs than Arthur C. Clarke.
Forrest J Ackerman, a real-life person, plays a supporting role in the story. So much so that I suppose Farmer knew him well enough to avoid any civil litigation. Check out Ackerman's biography at the Internet's Wikipedia. Though IMAGE OF THE BEAST gives us a good number of other colorful characters, none are given in depth. This was typical of Farmer, who wrote short novels with the flair of a master of pulp fiction.