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Bookends: The Case of the Counterfeit People April 28, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: The Case of the Counterfeit People

By Dan DavidsonMarch 7, 2012Star, March 9/12

– 954 words –

Frankenstein: Lost Souls

Dean Koontz
Bantam Books416 pages$10.99

Frankenstein: The Dead Town

Dean Koontz

Bantam Books

448 pages

$10.99

Despite the fact that Mary Shelly made it clear that the title of her novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, was a reference to Victor Frankenstein, the young inventor, a long series of Hollywood movies has left the impression that Frankenstein is the name of the monster Victor created from the parts of dead criminals and animated with a lightning bolt.

Prometheus was the Titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humans. He is thus thought of as a father of technology and science. Victor sees himself in that role, though he ultimately repents of his actions.

In Dean Koontz’s revisioning of the story, Victor was incapable of repentance, being an egomaniac with delusions of grandeur.

The Monster, as we know from the original story, grew a bit of a conscience after he had taken his revenge on his creator. In Koontz’s version he took on a name, Deucalion (the son of Prometheus in Greek mythology), and followed a peaceful path, sometimes spending years in monasteries of various faiths, at other times finding employment as a circus freak.

Something about the nature of his birth did, he believes, give him a soul, as well as a number of strange abilities. He has remained vigilant for over 200 years, waiting for Victor to make his next moves and thwarting him when he can.

For Victor did not die as recorded in Shelly’s novel, and used his own version of transplant surgery to remain vital and young. Over hundreds of years he perfected his techniques and was able to create perfect duplicates of living people, replacing them with his New People, creatures which would obey his every command and work with him to eliminate all the Old People from the planet.

In the first three books of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein (originally plotted as an outline for a television series that was never made) Victor Helios (as he renamed himself) was carrying out his designs in New Orleans. He was stopped by Deucalion, working with a team of local homicide detectives named Carson O’Connor and Michael Madison. It appeared that Victor had been killed by an explosion at his secret laboratory, but that was not the case, not entirely.

Victor’s backup plan involved a cloned version of himself, and this being has relocated to a small city in Montana where he has been slowly but surely replacing all key inhabitants with the latest version on his New People. This version of Victor, who styles himself Victor Leben or Victor Immaculate, works from a lab in a surplus underground missile complex and, while he may have all the intelligence of the original model, also had amplified versions of all Victor’s flaws.

His replacement people are called Communitarians, and they exist only to pave the way for the arrival of the Builders, truly bizarre shapeshifting creations made up of millions of nano-machines. Their only task is to devour all organic life in order to make more of themselves. In this way, Victor will cleanse the world of all living things, which he sees as a sort of infection, and then he will kill himself, thus triggering the demise of all his creations and leaving the world free to start over.

Deucalion, Carson and Michael get wind of Victor’s survival, but when they go to Rainbow Falls, they have no idea what they are going to find or how desperate the situation will become before they can bring an end to Victor and his mad plot.

The narrative makes it clear early on that Victor’s creations all seem to be afflicted with his own obsessive-compulsive disorder, and I wondered at times whether his whole plan would not fall apart while some replacement housewife was frantically trying to make her kitchen spotless or a fake police office was putting all the liquor bottles in a bar in alphabetical order.

Still, the creatures called the Builders had the potential to do serious damage to the world even when they did malfunction, so there was still a need for intervention.

Our intrepid trio are not the only heroes in this story. Rising to the occasion we find an aging writer of western novels and a young boy who find themselves trapped in a hospital filled with replaced staff. We find a criminal minded vagrant and a young retarded man who have to escape from a city jail staffed by replacement police officers. We find most of the congregation of the Riders in the Sky Church who take up arms against the monsters in their midst and establish a kind of fortress against the invaders.

We also find Erika 5 and Jocko, former creations of Victors who had managed to escape his thrall and the mess in New Orleans and had, by a terrible coincidence, settled in seclusion on a country residential property outside Rainbow Falls.

All of these people join the struggle against the real monster, but it is Deucalion who strikes the most telling blow late in the second book and ends the threat.

These are books four and five of this series and are really one long novel. Pick up both at the same time or you will be dreadfully annoyed when you get to the end of Lost Souls. I should note, by the way, that the covers of these books are a total mystery to me. The images have nothing to do with the stories or the setting.

The original trilogy, set in New Orleans, can be read as a separate experience, and that story seemed complete when it ended. Those books are from the same publisher, are available, and are subtitled Prodigal Son, City of Night and Dead and Alive.

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