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A Dangerous Energy

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His first novel won the 1991 First Fantasy Novel Competition jointly organized by BBC Radio 4's Bookshelf and the publishers Gollancz. The novel is set in an alternate world UK, ingeniously outlined through a history examination paper, where Royalists won the Civil War and the stern guardianship of the Catholic Church has, as in Keith Robert's Pavane (1968), retarded technology; this Church controls and polices magic. The selfish, amoral anti-hero Oakley is magically initiated by elves, enters the Church, and proves brutally effective in ''crusades''against England's heretical Protestant ''Levellers''. He advances himself by misusing demons, source of all major magical power; these and their conjuration exude an effective stench of wrongness, as in James Blish's Black Easter (1968). Oakley's climactic experiment in demonological research, though horrifying and hugely destructive, leads him to a futile dead end. He dies quietly in bed, to learn (like C S Lewis's damned) that his lifetime's efforts have achieved only his utter severance from God'.


Genre: Science Fiction

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