cover image Blue World

Blue World

Robert R. McCammon. Pocket Books, $7.99 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-671-69518-7

Rapid-fire action alternating with intense introspection, plus imagery that conjures visions of movie special effects, make McCammon's ( The Wolf's Hour ) multifaceted collection of new and reprinted tales worthwhile despite some uninspired story lines. In the title novella, Father John Lancaster battles temptations of the flesh and becomes a better priest as he saves the life of a cocaine-snorting porn queen. At the end of the world, described in ``Something Passed By,'' the laws of nature go awry: water becomes combustible, concrete turns to quicksand, people move swiftly toward old age or infancy. A Vietnam veteran's nightmares materialize in ``Nightcrawlers,'' yielding terror and death for his associates. ``He'll Come Knocking at Your Door'' trivializes the Faustian pact by having the devil arrive for trick-or-treat on Halloween to collect his due. An old-fashioned cliff-hanger concludes each segment of ``Night Calls the Green Falcon,'' in which a retired cinema superhero takes up his cape again to stalk a real-life prostitute's murderer. (Apr.)