Picks and Pans Review: Queen of Angels

updated 09/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Greg Bear

In another substantial sci-fi novel from the author of Blood Music, it is 2047 and the U.S. is enjoying a golden age of nearly universal mental health—through brainwashing.

An amazingly efficient police force rounds up miscreants and puts them through compulsory therapy where antisocial tendencies are rooted out. (The police have to act fast. There's an organized, highly motivated band of vigilantes hunting down criminals and exacting more stringent punishments.) Most of the law-abiding population submits to therapy voluntarily in order to increase their chances of obtaining high-paying jobs.

Then a well-known (and untherapied) poet murders eight innocents. A female Los Angeles police inspector who has been physically altered and tinted into a fashionable Grace Jones-like look is assigned to track down the poet. She follows him to Hispaniola (formerly Haiti) where he is protected by a charismatic despot. Yet, at the same time, a crew of scientists is conducting a controversial mind-mapping procedure on the poet in the United States.

How can he be in two places at once?

That's only one of the mysteries posed and solved in this cohesive and original vision of the future. Bear has combined a lively set of characters, colorful writing and gripping psychological-technological fabrications into a very seductive read. (Warner, $19.95)

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