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- Published on Amazon.com
Before KW Jeter turned to novelising DEEP SPACE NINE and such, he'd built up quite a cult following. Part of this -- in regard, specifically, to the novel DR. ADDER -- had to do with his associations with Philip K. Dick -- but Jeter really had his own voice and concerns. His novels from the time of DARK SEEKER (including MANTIS, THE SOUL EATER, and THE NIGHT MAN) are rather interesting psychological horror stories that often focus around buried rage, child abuse, and male protagonists who are barely able to remain stable, being tempted by various forces, both inner and outer, into darkness and self-destruction. Themes of homelessness and the perceptions of people beaten outside of the social structure also tend to arise... As his troubled heroes slide, their sense of what is or can be real and of the solidity of their own identity often gets grievously challenged. Some of these novels, like MANTIS, carry their ugliness too far into what amounts to self-indulgent misogyny and chaos; the most interesting of them, however, is DARK SEEKER. If nothing else, it has a BRILLIANT premise. It posits the existence of a hippie cult based around the use of a psychedelic drug that a) unites the users in a shared, telepathic psychosis and b) involves hallucinatory visits by dark, evil forces that goad the users on to do horrific things. The cult was disbanded years ago, after members were implicated in murder (reminiscent of the Manson clan). The protagonist of the novel is a survivor of the group; he is able to lead a normal life, by medicating himself daily with antipsychotics and so forth, but constantly misses the intensity of his past experiences. He also has memories of murder that other people, also using the drug, committed, and is disturbed by knowing on some primal level that the act felt good... He has to continually protect himself against the possiblity that the cult will again surface into his life to tempt him, which, of course, it eventually does... At his best, Jeter questions and deconstructs male attractions to violence and darkness, linking them to severe abuse (he was working in a reform-school type situation, on the night shift, when he wrote some of these -- notably also THE NIGHT MAN, which is also a pretty good book). At his worst, he romanticizes the brutality and revels in it. It's been a few years since I read DARK SEEKER -- but I'd recommend it, tentatively, based on how much I liked it at the time (when I was a moody, troubled adolescent -- possibly Jeter's ideal audience, which I know isn't really a compliment). Can't say much about his recent work, though -- haven't read it.