Killing Time: A Novel of the Future

Caleb Carr, Author Random House Inc $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-679-46332-0
Famous for his bestselling thrillers re-creating old New York (The Alienist; The Angel of Darkness) and trained as a military historian (The Devil Soldier), Carr leaps into the future for his third novelDand lands with a thud. Set about 25 years ahead, the first-person narrative describes the grim adventures of Gideon Wolfe, a bestselling author who joins forces with a band of outsiders intent on alerting the world to the dangers of excess information untempered by wisdom. By 2023, the Internet has multiplied wildly the ability of power possessors to deceive the general populace, resulting in a globe devastated by ecological blight and filled with near-zombies glued to computer screens. Some groups have escaped this fateDparticularly those living in unwired if disease-ravaged areas of Africa and AsiaDand a few, led by the enormously wealthy and brilliant brother-and-sister team of Malcolm and Larissa Tressalian, have vowed to fight it. These two, with a small crew, bring Gideon aboard their fantastic flying/diving fortress vehicle. They explain that for years they've seeded world-shaking disinformationDfor instance, that Winston Churchill plotted the outbreak of WWI and that St. Paul advocated lying about the life and miracles of Jesus in order to spread the faith. They've planned to reveal these hoaxes as such, to warn about the power of disinformation, but they're stymied by both the cleverness of their own lies and by a new threat that sees one of their hoaxes lead to possible nuclear Armageddon. This book is as much didactic essay as novel, filled with preachy talk. Characters are broad but memorable, and there's some brisk action, but the suspense relies too much on forebodings and cliffhangersDno doubt because the text originally appeared as a serial in Time magazine, from November 1999 to June 2000 (it's been slightly revised for this edition). The prose Carr uses is elaborate, near-VictorianDperhaps a holdover from his other novelsDand ill suits a futuristic tale. As readers navigate it, they won't be quite killing time, but they'll be wounding it for sure. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7435-2012-6
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