cover image MAGIC TIME


Marc Scott Zicree, Barbara Hambly, . . Eos, $25 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105068-8

Television writer Zicree teams with fantasy and SF bestselling Hambly (Knight of the Demon Queen, numerous Star Wars and Star Trek novels) on a story straight out of the Hollywood mold for vintage sci-fi disaster films. A government experiment so secret even the president doesn't know about it produces strange energy flows that wreak havoc with the space-time continuum, resurrecting skeletal prairie wolves and disturbing ancient Indian burial grounds. Despite his misgivings, Dr. Fred Wishart continues the questionable experiments, only to blast the United States with a force so destructive all electricity and communications are knocked out nationwide. The bulk of the book concerns various characters' attempts to adjust to the chaos left in the wake of the catastrophe—one made still more dangerous by the frightening mutations it produces in the population. Cal Griffin, a young New York City lawyer, finds his vibrant teenage sister turning into a near-translucent ghost of herself. Meanwhile, Cal's boss is transformed into a demonic, reptilian killer who stalks Cal as he tries to lead his sister and a hodgepodge of friends safely out of the city. Zicree's TV experience—he's written for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Sliders, among others—is obvious in the swift, episodic pacing; unfortunately, that doesn't give Hambly's usual gift for characterization much to work with. Like the pilot for a new television series, this effort promises much and delivers only hints of bigger things. (Dec. 4)

Forecast:Before the World Trade Center attack, this would have been a natural candidate for screen adaptation. Chances are the public will now have less of a taste for fictional disasters set in New York City.