gary237 reviewed this|over 3 years ago
This science fiction/thriller novel takes place in the decade of the 1960s, with a focus on the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The decade has lost its distinction over the years because the descriptions in media, film, and fiction have lost their edge due to careless use of words. I remember it as a time of great inexplicable anxiety on many levels. The fear provoking events were so disjointed in expectation and time that recollections of our activities as individuals and society during the period could resemble the hallucinogenic trips described in the book. Tim Kring and Dale Peck have created a psychedelic screen play that is disturbing, familiar, and unwanted like a flashback from a not too pleasant acid trip. The story, written in short declarative sentences with lots of dialogue, involves an international cast of characters readers really do not want to know but are forced to care about. The action filled narrative includes murder and intrigue with references to Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, JFK, and many other early 1960s historical figures. The hook is the idea of the gate of Orpheus with the mythical lyre replaced by lysergic acid diethylamide. The chemical, like Orpheus's lyre, opens the gate of loss and remorse and allows entrance into unlimited time for understanding, redemption, and resurrection. At high doses of the drug, some people can enter the minds of others and use the secrets to not only control them but, like a nuclear bomb, unleash supernatural power that can be used for good or evil. This reminds me of psychedelic posters for rock bands at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco that read, "May the baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind." In this way, the Manchurian Candidate idea is connected to the assassination of JFK. I enjoyed the novel, especially the mention of the philosophy of William Blake as a foundation for apprehending the apparent chaos of the 1960s and the severing by a bullet of the last strand of our society's illusion of absolute rationality. I recommend that you read this novel and try to hold on to whatever you believe about yourself and the 1960s as a foothold on reality. But like Orpheus who used his lyre to gain entrance from the world of the living to Hades to retrieve his dead wife Eurydice, trust your equanimity when you read Shift, just don't look back.