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ARTIFACT
by Kevin J. Anderson, Janet Berliner, Matthew Costello, F. Paul Wilson
Forge, May 2003
288 pages
$24.95
ISBN: 076530063X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Off the coast of Venezuela, Oilstar founder Frik Van Alman and his men uncover something strange off the ocean floor. There are four pieces of an artifact that after further testing showed that it could save the worldís energy problems. The only thing that is missing is one last piece that could make this even more powerful. Van Alman wants to keep the secret to himself since news of the discovery could actually ruin his business. Oilstar scientist Paul Trujold has a different opinion. News like that should be shared and he intends to do that. Shortly before his death, Trujold created false replicas of the pieces and mailed the other four to separate individuals. One of the pieces will go to his daughter Selene, an eco-terrorist living somewhere in the Venezuelan jungle. She blames Oilstar for her fatherís death as well as the ecological destruction the company is giving the planet. She is planning vengeance and she will set her master plan in motion.

Frik Van Alman is a member of a thrill-seeking elite group calling themselves The Daredevilís Club. Every January 1st they get together and discuss their different stunts they have performed trying to top one another. The South African decides to take advantage of this and enroll them in a new possibility. He offers them the chance of adventure in trying to find the missing pieces of the artifact without explaining its importance. Most of them agree to help and go on their separate missions. Little did they know what to expect. Death is also going on the ride.

It is unclear what role each one of the authors played in writing this book. Did they each provide a character and an idea for the novel or did they just take turns writing? The narration lacks a focus. There are a lot of things happening, but nothing going on. The concept of time seems to be irrelevant because months appear to pass between chapters without any warning towards the reader. Each member of the club is working on their own detail, but it never seems to be a part of the whole. The characterís behavior is also inconsistent in the book.

ARTIFACT reads more like a television pilot proposal. Daring jailbreaks, dangerous stunts, and deep sea diving are all par for the course. There is also a token woman in this menís group acting rather predictable in this chauvinistic group. The way the tale ends, you expect them all to sit back with a drink, pull their heads back, and do some fake laughter. If the story was told as a graphic novel, for say, Dark Horse Comics, the story might be entertaining. Instead we get an experiment by four authors trying to do something different. The authors should have stayed doing their own solo projects because as a group they fail. Unfortunately, they are good authors in their own right. Not here though.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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