cover image Heathern


Jack Womack. Tor Books, $16.95 (215pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85078-4

In the same surrealistic style of Ambient and Terraplaneok? , Womack's third novel takes place in an alternate America run by the Dryden Corporation (Dryco), whose owner, Thatcher Dryden, has engineered the assassinations of three presidents while searching for one who will remain under Dryden's thumb. Control of the country is also a problem, so when Dryden hears about Macaffrey, a teacher who works miracles, he decides to set up his own religion to be an opiate of the people. Not surprisingly, however, those who channel God's power aren't keen on obeying materialistic rulers. Womack thematically links this book with his previous novels through the use of ``postliterary'' futurespeak, and characters and plots that refuse to conform to conventional genres. While the book is initially slow going, patience is rewarded with a literate, well-rounded story, told from the viewpoint of Joanna, Dryden's mistress and Macaffrey's ardent disciple. (``Heathern,'' by the way, is a regional pronunciation of ``heathen,'' as in one who does not believe in the Messiah.) (Oct.)