Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Telempath by Spider Robinson

Telempath is a pretty fair post-apocalyptic novel by Robinson. The premise is that a scientist, angered by the way humans have polluted the environment, releases a plague which gives people a sense of smell exponentially better than that of wolves, and most humans are driven mad by the odors of technology. Cities are rapidly depopulated, and many flee to the wilderness areas; even there they still need nose filters to tone down the extreme aromas. Ok, the usual suspects - Man bad, Nature good.

The plight of the survivors is further complicated by the appearance of the Muskies, plasmoid beings which attack humans for inexplicable (at the start of the book) reasons, and which men, with their improved sense of smell, can now detect at small arms range distances. The people of Fresh Start use pyrotechnic ammunition to explode the Muskies, as they are explosively flammable.

One of the scientist's former colleagues, Jacob Stone, founds a small enclave in upstate New York, Fresh Start, where he and some other refugees bring back a small amount of modern technology, mostly medical or weapons to defend against human and animal predators. The story begins when his son, Isham, is sent into New York City to find and execute the man responsible, Wendell Carlson. What Isham discovers in the city rattles his entire worldview, and he returns to his home a changed man, his vengeance redirected.

There's also an opposition group in the woods, called the Agros, led by a man named Jordan, who are most violently opposed to all technology, and who worship Pan. The main crisis point in the novel is reached when they kidnap Isham, and band together in force to destroy Fresh Start and all vestiges of its industry.

Once again, Robinson returns to a recurring them. If we can all only just get our minds right, and find common ground with ALL of our enemies through telepathy, empathy or telempathy, we can all live in peace with each other and with the Earth. Isham displays hitherto unsuspected abilities in that area, and - wonder of wonders - so does his love interest. Together, their love can conquer all.

Good for a couple hours diversion, anyway.

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