cover image Mirage


F. Paul Wilson. Warner Books, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51976-2

Novelist Wilson (The Select) and CD-ROM scriptwriter Costello (The 7th Guest) take the reader on a high-tech voyage to the brain centers of human memory in this vivid cyber-medical thriller. Julie Gordon, a 28-year-old New York neurophysiologist, is pulled away from a breakthrough research project investigating memory via virtual reality technology when she gets an anxious call from her uncle in France. Her estranged twin sister, Samantha, has fallen into an unexplainable coma and seems to be dying, though she does not have a discernible illness. Julie agrees to use ""memoryscape,"" the spectacular computer program she helped create, to search the minefield of her sister's memory. As Julie already knows, both sisters' history is irrevocably scarred by visions of the tragic house fire that killed their parents 23 years ago. But even more secrets haunt the pair. Now, returning to England with Sam and her uncle in a desperate effort to help her sister recover, the secrets Julie didn't know are revealed. Ultimately, Julie's entire identity is called into question as she confronts the possibility that the twins' careful liberal education may have been an elaborate experiment on the human brain. The virtual reality sequences in the novel provide stunningly surreal images, compensating for a plot steeped in melodrama. Although the revelatory conclusion may disappoint some readers as too contrived, others may see it as shocking, and most will be entertained by the med-tech details along the way. (Nov.)