Friday, December 19, 2014

The Pritcher Mass

By Gordon R. Dickson

Chaz Sant wants just one thing: he wants to work on the Pritcher Mass. But only people who can pass the entrance exam are allowed  to work there and Chaz keeps failing the test.
Chaz lives on an Earth that has become poisonous to its human dwellers. A fatal fungus has infested the world and people are reduced to living in sealed environments to protect them from it. The Pritcher Mass is an attempt to locate, psychically, a new planet for humans to occupy. Anyone who can pass the test is sent to space to live in the environment constructed for this purpose, despite their past failures or even criminal background. Chaz is not a criminal at the beginning of the story, but his desire to be one of the Pritcher Mass workers drives him to commit crimes that would result in exile to the fungus-infected outside and certain death if he is caught.
Then  he meets Eileen. Unknown to Chaz, Eileen's meeting up with him is not an accident. She was hired by the Citadel, a powerful criminal organization, to get information about Chaz which she does by drugging him. The Citadel doesn't want Chaz working on the Pritcher Mass because their projections indicate that his doing so is a threat to their very existence. Eileen is just one of many roadblocks they place in his way to keep him from it. But Eileen, who is a powerful witch, has fallen in love with Chaz and has decided to help him, even though it may result in her exile and death.

This was an interesting story with an unexpected (for me) conclusion. There is plenty of action and adventure, as one man takes on the big boys in an attempt to save himself and the whole world. I enjoyed it a lot.

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