Steven-Elliot Altman, Author . Ace $13 (359p) ISBN 978-0-441-01093-6

Altman, co-creator of the theme anthology The Touch , a well-received charity venture that allowed contributors to riff on the imaginary Sensory Deprivation Syndrome (communicated through skin contact with a "Depriver"), has taken SDS and built a two-part novel around it, but its effects pale beside similar comic-book antihero fare such as the popular X-Men films or The X-Files . In part one, Cassandra, Queen of the Depriver underground, recruits Robert Luxley, a Depriver assassin whose touch causes 15 minutes of paralysis, to help retrieve her brother Nicholas from the clutches of the ambiguously evil Mr. Deveraux. With the help of Sparrow, a mystically inclined Lakota Indian, Robert learns how to recognize other Deprivers by their auras. Unfortunately, the action quickly bogs down as various characters discuss ethical options instead of wholeheartedly battling the factions that would use SDS for their own nefarious ends. In part two, Alex Crowley, a normal man who loved his Depriver wife and now wants revenge for her murder, turns to Sparrow's Indian mentor for help. The better parts of the novel focus on Alex's vision quest. After he becomes a secret agent, he has to fight his conscience more than he fights the bad guys. This book succeeds neither in creating archetypal comic-book antiheroes nor in humanizing the characters enough to give them three-dimensional depths. (Dec. 2)

Reviewed on: 11/24/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1324-0
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-8770-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-8939-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-2611-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-8942-7
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4332-9437-2
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