Science Fiction Though the Decades

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1982: Gemini Rising (Filbrun, J.S.)

"Found footage" review of an underground disaster (3/5)
From May 3, 2011

The single edition of the single novel produced by the author J.S. Filbrun... it was destined to become lost among the bookshelves, forgotten about mere weeks after printing, perhaps best used to prop up a slightly lean-to table or to keep a pesky door ajar. I was suckered into buying it for one dollar as the rear cover synopsis was pretty good:

"THE TIME: Tomorrow. THE PLACE: Project Gemini, a top-secret, ultra-sophisticated scientific base a thousand feet below the Texas earth. THE MENACE: An unknown terror rampaging through Gemini, blasting a path of destruction through level after level of computers and crew. THE THREAT: In four hours, unless a daring man-and-woman team of counter-saboteurs can stem the tide of death, Project Gemini will self-destruct, [underlined] and the whole Earth will perish..."

Sounds pretty epic, eh? Though the 179 pages did imbue a rather mundane suspense, it failed to really grab my attention as it started off entirely on the wrong foot. Page one contains a rather overdone eleven-line quote from the Book of Revelations, proceeded by two pages of factual material about the underground base and the next nineteen pages contain one grisly death, two forceful sex scenes and one boob grope.

Thereafter, all which was semi-calm in the underground base comes to a halt as an explosion rocks the ground level, electrify goes on the fritz, communications are non-existent and some heinous facts come to light about the secret project 1,196 feet below the Texas earth. A team of six people back their way to the sub-basement in order to deactivate a binary bomb which threatens to destroy the base in six hours, twenty-seven minutes and four point seven seconds. For a super-classified, super-secure and super-sophisticated base like this, there seems to be an awful lot of air ducts which render the base as porous as a sponge. Predictably, like a bad thrasher film, the team gets knocked off one-by-one in one grisly manner or another. Admittedly, it was a nice change of pace to see something unfold so predictably.

As bad as the beginning was, it was a bittersweet delight to reach the conclusion just two hours after starting the book. You could just throw your brain away when reading this one. The suspense that occurs in the plot is tamed by the reader's knowledge that the heroes comprise of a frail-bodied man and a busty vixen. Picturing the two against the shadowy threat lurking in the darkened corridors put a smile on my face rather than an ounce of adrenaline in my veins. Suspenseful? Hmph.

The one redeeming quality of this book was the computer BRUCE, which had a witty intelligence when conversing with the short-tempered human operators. It didn't play a important role in the end, or even in the middle, but it was a nice addition of comic relief when, otherwise, the book would've been a total stinker. Edit Another redeeming factor, which actually made me put it back onto my bookshelf, was that the book was written in a sort of "found footage" montage where a computer was reconstructing through it's sensors' data what took place. Interesting.

I would recommend buying this novel in a second-hand bookstore if you can find the correct spare change in the lend-a-penny jar... or if you just really love a cheap, cheesy one-off pseudo-suspense novel... or the unique "found footage" aspect of the book, which makes it a keeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment