cover image Race for God

Race for God

Brian Herbert. Ace Books, $4.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-441-70283-1

After a promising start, Herbert's heavy-handed work rapidly disintegrates into uninspired philosophizing and potshots at organized religion. God uses an unlikely spokesman, Evander McMurtrey--who as a lark had founded the Interplanetary Church of Cosmic Chickenhood--to issue an unusual invitation to the people of the planet D'Urth: although he doesn't explain why, God would like them to race each other to visit him on his remote world of Tananius-Ofo, and provides a fleet of computer-piloted spaceships for transport. On McMurtrey's own ship are the embattled followers of various religions, such as Krassianism (read Christianity), Hoddism (Buddhism) and Middism (Judaism), who squabble their way toward God (even the computer is accused of blasphemy). McMurtrey is an engagingly eccentric character, but Herbert ( Prisoners of Arionn ) laces his meandering text with banal observations (``every experience in life is a lesson'') and tiresome irreverences, such as this attack on Catholic absolution: ``Confess to murder and rape, say you accept Krassos Christ and you get a ticket to Heaven. What a sick, sic e-vile religion!'' (Aug.)