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Title: Hell’s Gate
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Victor Salsburys awakes with almost no memories and a voice in his head telling him what to do. Without emotion and almost no control, Victor obeys and kills a man, who looks just like him. Wondering what is going on, Victor follows the instructions of the voice and finds a cave and falls asleep.
Waking up 2 weeks later, Victor moves into a house in a small town. He seems to have shaken off whatever control the unseen voices had over him but he is filled with knowledge that he doesn’t know how he owns. He IS Victor Salsbury but he appears to also be something else, something stronger, faster and smarter. Victor is attacked one night by an automaton that uses weaponry Victor instinctively understands. However, Victor is wounded and is nursed back to health by the young woman who sold him the house. Victor also saw a glowing portal through the attacker came and behind that portal were beings of demonic visage.
One of Victor’s pieces of luggage turns out to be a super computer and tells him that he is an experiment from the far future where Earth and all alternate Earth’s have been conquered by the beings Victor saw. Victor is humanity’s last chance at destroying the machinery that allows the creatures to travel across the multiverse. Victor must cross the portal, make his way to Earth Prime and destroy the starship base where the demons live.
He succeed with the help of other alternate Earth humans and returns to the girl and lives happily ever after.
Funny thing about Koontz. Even though he re-uses the same ideas over and over, he re-uses them in different combinations so that no story is the same. We have the name Victor, proto-flesh that doesn’t bleed, inimical beings that want to destroy our world, etc. And it is a completely new story.
I had to wonder if James Cameron read this before he made the Terminator movie. While I was reading this I had to look up the published date (it was 1970 by the way) because so many of the things reminded me of the Terminator. A soldier returned to the past, portals that could only pass certain materials through, unstoppable killing machines that were vaguely humanoid. It wasn’t a play by play but the similarities were enough that it raised questions in my mind. The ending is as rushed as ever, or maybe I should say Koontz rushes the ending and has never stopped that practice even in his books today?
And yet, while I complain about stuff and only give this 3 stars, I have no intention (as of yet anyway) of stopping my reading of books by Koontz. I still enjoy them even while acknowledging their inherent weaknesses. I guess that makes him a good author? Facepalm
Oh, and that cover? It really does look like that. It is the weirdest thing ever.