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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Warren Fahy

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To purchase Pandemonium

Title: Pandemonium
Author: Warren Fahy
Genre: Novel
Written: 2013
Length: 306 pages
Availability: Pandemonium - US
Pandemonium - UK
Pandemonium - Canada
Pandemonium - India

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Our Assessment:

B : basic busy, over-the-top adventure with science fiction twists -- but fine for that

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Warren Fahy's previous novel, Fragment, saw the discovery of a long isolated island, Henders Island, with its own very distinctive ecosystem -- including animal life that had evolved very differently than anywhere else on earth and much of which, if it ever reached and spread elsewhere on earth, could wreak incredible (and ultimately near-complete) devastation. A highly intelligent and somewhat human-like (and more benign) life-form -- hendropods, or sels as they like to call themselves -- also existed there; some of these were saved and transported off the island, but the island ecosystem, and every living thing on it was destroyed.
       Pandemonium finds the two scientist/heroes from Fragment, Nell and Geoffrey, newly married and set to go on their honeymoon -- until they get an offer they can't refuse: Russian oligarch Maxim Dragolovich not only offers them a quick big payday but also a glimpse of yet another long unexplored and rich ecosystem, with: "more than you ever found on Henders Island". Given what they found on Henders Island you might think they'd think twice, but no, they're game, and head straight off to Kaziristan (a "former satellite of Soviet Union near Kazakhstan"). The place they go to is one of Stalin's abandoned underground cities, Pobedograd, and it's pretty spectacular. Maxim has begun to turn it into: "a playground for rich, and a haven for oppressed" -- and puts himself in both categories, as he has a big beef with the Russian authorities, who have gone beyond making life difficult for him.
       Pobedograd was never finished -- and many lost their lives in building it. It is also reputed to be haunted. Beyond that, the caverns hold -- behind thick glass windows -- a whole new world of spectacular life-forms. 'Pandemonium' they call it -- and pandemonium is of course very much in the cards, as Maxim turns out to have very big and pretty bad plans.
       Once things start to get predictably out of hand -- a few leftover and very, very dangerous creatures from Henders Island having made their way into Maxim's possession, just to add to the fun -- a small team which includes two (hopefully ...) trusty hendropods is dispatched to see if disaster can be averted. With Nell and Geoffrey working from inside (helped by Maxim's young daughter, Sasha, who knows all the hidden spaces and back alleys in the underground city), and the team coming to join up with them it's a race against time -- and a lot of very aggressive and nasty life-forms. With not quite everybody on quite the same page -- some are under secret orders to take advantage of the situation, for example -- additional complications ensue. The obligatory frantic race against time and all odds follows.
       Fahy packs a lot in here, from Soviet history to an incredible variety of (invented) flora and fauna. The back and forth between action, description, and explanation is reasonably well done, making for a fast but sufficiently varied read. Eventually, however, the underground action scenes do blur a bit -- the variety of aggressive species may be clever, but in the chase-scenes that remains interesting only for so long.
       A lot of this is stuff of the sort that works better on the screen than on the page, and with its pretty basic dialogue, layers of good vs. evil, wild-looking wildlife, and its crowd of resourceful/duplicitous/endearing characters -- including a little girl and her dog, as well as the appealing hendropods -- Pandemonium has the feel of a novelized film. Yes, it's by the numbers, from bad-guy Maxim to the helpful furry creatures, but Fahy does imagine and embellish a lot of these basics pretty well -- not to any real depth, but sufficiently to make the whole thing modestly intriguing. So overall it's entertaining enough for all that -- and aside from the irritant of signs saying "sector" being rendered in incorrect faux-Cyrillic (as "SEKTOP" instead of the proper СЕКТОР) -- it's a reasonable lite-sci-fi read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 22 March 2013

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Pandemonium: Reviews: Warren Fahy: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Warren Fahy is an American author.

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