The year is 2099 and the United States is a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. Elvis has been canonized, the District of Columbia is now the District of Christ, and the White House is occupied by a charismatic religious leader called the Shepherdess who delivers messages to her worshipful followers via ACNN -- the Americhristian Capsule News Network.
A satirical speculation of the future combined with a religious fantasy-adventure, the story unfolds in the Greater San Juan Metroplex of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, now our 54th state.
Pollution has escalated beyond everyone's worst nightmares, overpopulation has mushroomed to where a family with 14 children is considered small, millions roam the streets homeless and starving, and growing numbers of citizens are driven to take the so-called "easy way out."
But this can't be allowed in a society where suicide is a prosecutable offense carrying a mandatory quarter-century sentence and the dead-by-their-own-hand can readily be resurrected by the state to continue to serve it.
Enter the Suicide Prevention Corps of America, for whom true believer Juan Bautista Lorca labors as a rookie first responder alongside his veteran partner and mentor, Fabiola Muñoz.
Their job is to race to the scene of a self-inflicted death, freeze the body, and deliver it on the double to the nearest resurrection center before it is too late to bring the victim back to life and save its soul from eternal damnation.
Enduring the resurrection process is such agony that few would-be soulkillers ever make a second attempt. So why is the suicide rate skyrocketing?
Juan loves his mission and the spiritual leaders who oversee it, the highly placed Rev. Jimmy Divine and the sensual, breathtakingly beautiful Shepherdess, but when they spur him to spy on his partner, suspected of being a heretic believer in the Twin Messiahs, he's no longer sure who, or even what, to believe -- and he's no longer certain all the suicides are really suicides.
Written in a lean, crisp style that moves with lightning speed from one scene to the next, Soulsaver focuses on loyal, optimistic Juan Bautista's crisis of faith, his struggle to reconcile with the powerfully placed father who rejected him, the alarming rise of the subversive New Christer cult, the promise -- and threat -- of the swiftly approaching End of Days, the pressure cooker hunt for the Twin Antichrists, and a diabolical plot to keep the country crushed beneath the heel of a religious dictatorship -- forever .
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James Stevens-Arce's Soulsaver has had a long genesis. It began as a short story in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazinein 1983; in 1997, a novella-length version shared the UPC Prize for Science Fiction. Now comes the novel.
Set in Puerto Rico in 2099, Soulsaver features an all-too-believable future in which the U.S. has become a repressive Christian theocracy whose corrupt leaders use entertainment and technology to cement their power. In this world of televised miracles, overpopulation and poverty tempt ever-increasing numbers of people to suicide. Suicide remains a mortal sin, but most "self-inflicteds" can be restored to life--like it or not--by soulsavers trained in advanced medical procedures. Juan Bautista Lorca is a rookie soulsaver whose faith in the righteousness of his actions is absolute. But his faith is about to be tested by revelations. Or, rather, Revelations--the Biblical kind. The Last Days are at hand, and the Second Coming will be televised, "with extra special guest: Our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Despite its SF trappings and satirical barbs, Stevens-Arce's tale is traditional Christian fare. Far from being the Orwellian satire it appears at first blush to be, Soulsaver comes to praise the Christian God, not to bury Him. Juan Bautista's journey from callow youth to mature manhood, and the concurrent tempering of his faith, may appeal more to young adult than to adult readers. Still, despite faltering at the end through a regrettable literalism that deflates much of what has gone before, Soulsaver is a fast-paced, amusing and often insightful first novel from a talented author. --Emerson CooperFrom the Publisher:
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Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, N.Y., 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First Printing as Stated. Brodart protected dust jacket. There is a light abrasion on the front and back of the dust jacket from a piece of tape. " Frightening, funny future full of religion, politics, TV, and even the occasional miracle.' Satire at its best. Bookseller Inventory # 003020
Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0151004722
Book Description Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.: Harcourt, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1st Edition. New. 1st edition, 1st printing. Bookstore inventory. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-3580651317
Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110151004722
Book Description Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Brand New!. Bookseller Inventory # VIB0151004722
Book Description Harcourt, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Book Description: Juan Bautista and his partner Fabiola Mu–oz drive a FreezVan for the Suicide Prevention Corps of America. Their job is to race to the scene of a suicide, put the body on ice, and rush it, siren yowling, to the Saint Francis of Assisi Resurrection Center in time for repair and resuscitation. Usually this works and the former suicide promises to sin no more, if for no other reason than the pain of being resurrected is even worse than that of committing suicide. Still, the suicide rate seems to be climbing. Juan loves his job, and he loves the spiritual leaders who created it, Reverend Jimmy Divine and the beautiful woman called the Shepherdess. But when he's asked by them to spy on his partner, suspected of being a heretic believer in the Twin Messiahs, he's no longer sure who or even what to believe-and he's no longer sure that all the suicides are really suicides. From the Publisher Soulsaver accolades: * Best First Novel of 2000--Rocky Mountain News * Best of the Year 2000 list--San Francisco Chronicle * Best First Novels of 2000 Recommended Reading List--Locus magazine About the Author James Stevens-Arce works as a writer-producer-director of film and video in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The novella version of Soulsaver shared the 1997 UPC Prize for Science Fiction, which Brian Aldiss says is "the most prestigious science fiction award in all of Europe.". Bookseller Inventory # 000444