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brianmartin

Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz Omnibus: The Bad Place / Demon Seed / The Eyes of Darkness - Leigh Nichols, Dean Koontz

*** Demon Seed only.

The original version (1973).

I make the distinction because I just discovered that Koontz rewrote the thing and republished it in 1997. This new dance mix, evidently, is written entirely from the point of view of the computer, Proteus. Which lets me out. Proteus is the worst thing about the original novel.

The book starts well, being both creepy and suspenseful. Susan -- beautiful, wealthy, but seriously disturbed as a result of childhood trauma -- finds herself trapped in her own home, held prisoner by a sentient computer that has taken control of her "enviromod," the computer system that runs the entire house. The takeover occurs almost immediately; there's nothing like the slow build of an Ira Levin novel, for instance -- a comparison that isn't altogether off the mark since Susan, like Rosemary, is chosen to bear an inhuman child.

The sacrifice is most noticeable in the book's second half. Having quickly burned out the most intriguing aspects of the premise, Koontz seems unsure what to do next. So he starts monkeying around, slowing it down, biding his time until he can get to his climax. The way he slows it down is by giving increasingly more time to Proteus, and that's a deadly mistake.

Proteus isn't content with being a computer; he wants to be flesh. Only in so becoming can he give full reign to the emotions that have begun to overwhelm him. That's dicey on its face, the whole alien-discovers-emotions thing being an awfully shallow well from which to draw anything new or interesting. But it gets worse. Because emotions are new to Proteus, he starts at the beginning with a childish tantrum or two, then quickly passes into the confusion of puberty, eventually becoming hopelessly mired in adolescence, with its obsession with all things sexual. In the end, Proteus is less interested in having a child than in being able to screw. This, of course, diminishes him nearly to the vanishing point. A computer with an adult sensibility that chooses to rape might be scary, but a computer that rationalizes rape with adolescent fantasies of love and childbirth desperately needs a time out.

Well, it's a quick read, anyway. The first half generates enough energy to power you through the second. But you'd be better off stopping at the midpoint and letting your imagination fill in the rest.