The Doomsday Report

Rock Brynner, Author
Rock Brynner, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (272p) ISBN 978-0-688-15919-1
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Beware of novels bearing bibliographies. Here we have not only two pages of citations (and Web sites specializing in ecology and population control) but also instructive quotations introducing each chapter--all of which support the dire warnings of the fictional Belacqua Report: that pollution, nuclear accidents and overpopulation have ruined our planet beyond any hope of recovery. When publisher Franco Sherman and his girlfriend, copy editor Terry Bancroft, rescue the visionary Dr. Belacqua's apocalyptic findings from their slushpile, they uncover a bookseller's dream and nightmare combined. The report hits the bestseller lists with a vengeance, creating a media frenzy, public hysteria and a rising wave of terrorist activity. Only when Bancroft applies some relatively simple math does the (less) horrid truth become clear: Belacqua is either mistaken or a fake. Bancroft's ethical dilemmas, Sherman's topical struggles with his publishing bureaucracy and the efforts of various agencies to smoke out the true state of the planet all fail to put thrills into this tract. Although playwright, historian and novelist Brynner (The Ballad of Habit and Accident) obviously wants to provoke discussion of ecological problems, his horse-pill demands more than a sugar-coating. (June) FYI: The author is the son of the late actor Yul Brynner.
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