INTERVENTION
Julian May

 


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THE SURVEILLANCE/ THE METACONCERT
Ballantine Books, 1989
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Science Fiction

The human race is in a period of mutation. Active psychics are being born, people whose mind powers are operant without training or elaborate rituals. We first met the Remillard family in The Saga Of Pliocene Exile, represented by its culminating member Marc Remillard, aka the Angel of the Abyss. In 1945 the Remillards have a pair of mutant psychic children, twins named Rogi and Don – the good twin and the bad twin. Rogi and Don read each other’s minds involuntarily, they move items around without touching them, and Don can coerce anyone to do whatever he likes. Rogi doesn’t coerce because he has a conscience. He also has the Family Ghost.

While Don is living it up seducing girls and starring in football and hockey, Rogi is  reading all he can about how other psychics have met the difficulties of being cast out by society. Occasionally he receives visits from the Family Ghost, an invisible being who rescues him in dire necessity and gives him orders according to a long range plan. One of those orders is to educate Don’s oldest son Denis. Denis, his genius mind stretched by special training from an early age, his outstanding psychic powers refined, grows up to be the leading psychic of his generation, introducing mind powers to the world in such a way that they are finally accepted as true.

Don has another talented son. Rogi doesn’t train Victor, Don does, and the resulting malign personality is magnified by Victor’s mental talents, as strong as Denis’s. While Denis and his fellow university psychics are trying to prove to the world that people of mind power are helpful, not dangerous, Victor Remillard and another supervillain, Kieran O’Connor, are proving the opposite.

Circling in surveillance ships overhead, aliens are nursing humanity in hopes that it will survive long enough to develop a World Mind, or mental union of all Earth psychics. If it can do so, they will reveal themselves and invite Earth to join the larger mental union of the Galactic Milieu. There is a general belief in the Milieu that Earth will destroy itself before its World Mind can be achieved. Against the odds, the Great Lylmik, leader of them all, insists that humanity must and will survive no matter what it takes. Humanity’s strength and vitality will revitalize the Milieu.

INTERVENTION was huge as a hardback. For paperback it was divided into THE SURVEILLANCE and THE METACONCERT. The end of THE SURVEILLANCE falls just after psychics or “operants” reveal themselves to the world. THE METACONCERT covers the period of gradual human disenchantment with operants. Ethical operants work to learn more about how to use their talents, and hidden operant criminals work to eliminate their ethical competition. We already know from The Saga Of Pliocene Exile that good will win, but it is sometimes a very close thing indeed.

INTERVENTION is so persuasive and well-considered, it seems the things that happen in the book are the things that would happen in the same circumstances in real life. Readers will never actually meet Rogi Remillard, the lovable curmudgeon with some small but unique talents. That is our loss. Rogi and his friends, family, and enemies make irresistibly human the evolutionary changes now pouring over Earth society and threatening to drown it. Rogi’s son-of-the-heart Denis, the firestarter Lucille, out-of-body traveler Jamie and his folk-wise grandmother, Russian Tamara exploring the question of how much the ends justify the means, and Rogi’s love Elaine, whose tragedy serves the common need; these people and many others are the “good guys,” striving to help humanity. A powerful and colorful set of criminals use their mental powers for evil, as soldiers for either Kieran or Victor. The disarming “the Fabulous Finster,” catspaw Gerry Tremblay, and especially, poor, twisted Shannon O’Connor, who we know is dangerous but we don’t know to whom: these are the “bad guy” standouts, who nearly succeed in discrediting operants altogether.

All of INTERVENTION has the natural flow of life. Author Julian May doesn’t flinch from exploring issues that may one day be real life problems. To create authenticity on such a global yet individual scale is a major undertaking but one which, by now, we are used to seeing May perform. In addition, the people and society in this pair of books have a suddenly opened future. After INTERVENTION lays the groundwork, May is finally ready to take on the story of the Galactic Milieu she hinted at in The Saga Of Pliocene Exile. We next meet the Remillards in JACK THE BODILESS, which tells the dramatic childhoods of the rebel Marc Remillard, Angel of the Abyss, and his brother Jack, sainted savior of the Milieu.

May 2005 Review

 

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