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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Moreau Factor

Reviewed: October 3, 2003
By: Jack Chalker
Publisher: Del Rey Books
342 pages, $9.99

Another writer revisiting old territory in a new way is Jack Chalker. The very title of the book, with its homage to H.G. Wells, would tell you that it had something to do with transforming species into each other, even if you didnít know Chalkerís work.

He sort of fooled me this time. I knew that his first person narrator Chuck Vallone was going to get hit with some sort of a physical alteration when he started investigating the appearances of a a giant bat-like creature after his interview with a scientist got cancelled on account of the guy getting murdered. I knew that, but then a very intelligent lady scientist spent several pages explaining to us why the sort of genetic tinkering I was expecting could not be done, why it was too complex and work, so I was primed to expect some other trick.

Instead he sandbagged me with a transmutation device that works like a spreadsheet. Think about that idea for a while and then consider whether or not you should get nervous.

Chuckís just trying to unravel the story that might salvage his declining career and even do something for his paperís circulation in an era (just a few years from now) when old fashioned news is falling out of favour and truly portable reading devices (like the digital paper I was reading about the other day) are rendering hard copy obsolete.

What he gets instead is much more of the inside dope than he would ever have expected in a fast moving story with plots and counter-plots galore and hardly time to adjust to one surprise before the writer hits you with another. Itís vintage Chalker, blended with with the sort of thriller format that I donít heís used in quite this way since The Identity Matrix.

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