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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Strange Horizons -- August 20, 2018

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Strange Horizons, August 20, 2018

What Man Knoweth” by Russell Nichols

Reviewed by Gyanavani

In this Russell Nichols’s story, we travel through the bible thumping south of the near future where an evangelopath—a cross between an evangelist pastor and a telepath—is a legal entity; which means once the pastor officially declares him- or her-self as a telepath they are judged as accessory to any crime that takes place around them.

The story follows two crimes. One crime occurs in the past. The hero’s father, a minor evangelist pastor, joins with a popular preacher and his church, called The House of Renewed Minds, in the hope of expanding his consciousness and ends up committing suicide. This crime the hero, John Raven, lays on the shoulders of the head of that church, Bishop Jermaine Hayes, whose dishonest claim that he was an evangelopath planted the seed of that desire in his father.

The story opens with another crime, that of the murder of the deacon of this church, Lydell Harris, by a devoted churchgoer, Willie McCain. The Bishop, a registered telepath, was at the scene when the murder occurred. The court finds him guilty and sentences him to life in prison.

All these years John has mourned his honest father’s death. Now John has the opportunity for revenge. His Machiavellian scheme to denounce the Bishop as a fraudulent hustler requires that he proves him innocent of this crime.

This action packed story disseminates information intelligently through vivid characters and interesting voices. The sub-plot in which we meet the ex-girlfriend also gets neatly tied in with the main crusade. Even the difficult description of John Raven’s ultimate despair which opens his mind to the other minds around him is engaging. The conclusion, no matter whether you are a believer or a cynic, is breathtaking.