Sacred Fire

Isi Beller, Author
Isi Beller, Author Arcade Publishing $21.95 (390p) ISBN 978-1-55970-226-3
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-61145-220-4
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Appearing here four years after its publication in France, this first novel from a French psychoanalyst should set some tongues to wagging, if only it can find its deserved readership. And that may not be easy, burdened as it is with a complex plot and a confusing plethora of characters, some of whom operate out of unclear motives or occasionally appear under code names. The premise is intriguing: in the near future, the HIV virus has mutated into an even more virulent strain that targets sperm cells. The U.S. is now a veritable police state, with all males forced to wear an ASP, or Anti-Sex Program, implant. Relationships between the sexes are virtually nonexistent; many women have become lesbians; fetuses are brought to term in artificial wombs, and the resultant children are termed ``bios.'' Because alcohol lessens the effectiveness of the ASP, cocaine-laced beverages have become socially accepted, part of a secret covenant between government officials and the mafia. Dr. Paul Verne, who discovered the new virus, at first supported the ASP and its consequences, but now his doubts are growing, especially since he finds himself strangely attracted to a young bio, Clara Hastings. An undetectable non-operational ASP, or NOX, provides some hope to the nationwide resistance movement that the scientific and social repression might be brought to an end, but only if Verne, who joins the resisters, can evade the clutches of the Federal Bureau of Biological Supervision and its ambitious new director, Annabelle Weaver. All this makes for a thoughtful tale, but readers willing to go the distance must hurdle over the aforementioned obstacles, as well as some jaw-dropping acronyms such as RUT (``Women for a Return to the Uterus'') and WOMLIP (``Women's Movement for Liberation from Pregnancy''). 50,000 first printing; author tour. (July)
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