I have to admit, the cover painting played a part in my purchase of this book. One of the rare times that has occurred, because it’s been my experience that most cover paintings seem to be done by an artist who has read (or at least paid attention to) little more than the title of the book. Most of the time, they’re useless as a tool for making decisions about the book. But Christian McGrath’s depiction of a monk with a keyboard tucked under his arm against a double-exposure backdrop of a circuit board and the wals of a gothic cathedral was nothing short of delightful. Match it with Christopher Stasheff, he of The Warlock In Spite Of Himself, and I figured I was in for an enjoyable ride.
And I was. The premise is that the blessed Father Vidicon is walking down the throat of Hell (having, of course, passed successfully through the Hellmouth) and hears the pleas of those who are struggling against Murphy. A young man, Tony, a computer troubleshooter, stumbles across a message from the blessed father, and becomes pressed into service, falls in love, and tries to maintain a relationship with both a beautifule woman
All the while Tony strives against a delightful bestiary representing the problems we all encounter, Father Vidicon continues his walk, struggling with the more powerful sendings.
Stasheff has put together an allegory for our time, sort of a Pilgrim’s Progress, albeit with both a technological and philosophical twist. While the former would, no doubt, delight Bunyan, the latter I’m equally sure, would not.
Definitely a Good Read, though perhaps we techno-dweebs are most likely to identify with Tony. There is a low probability of this becoming a series, which is a Good Thing (I’d call it impossible, but I know better; still I hope it doesn’t as the story is complete as it stands) because I think the tale would lose something were it to continue.