Kenny Kemp
Alta Films Press, 2008

Lightland is a well-told story meant to entertain. The race to cure the worldwide epidemic of the killer virus, Cobalt, keeps the adventure and suspense moving. Cobalt has reduced the population of the world by billions through grisly and painful deaths, leaving people paranoid, afraid and unable to keep usual world-wide communication open. Human touch is almost a thing of the past and in good apocalypse tradition, food is what one kills or finds in deserted houses and ransacked grocery stores. A daffy U.S. president has gone into hiding, leaving the military in control, with only the hero archeologist and avowed atheist, Chris Tempest, left to save the world.

Chris starts in Manhattan, rushes to Tanzania to secure a mummy that might hold the secret to Cobalt, and through four hundred pages travels across the U.S. to Atlanta, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Mexico. Most of the time with a yearning heart for fellow scientist, Cate Seagram.

But all this with its usual collection of showy, eccentric characters, is only half of the story. Readers intrigued with references and speculation about ancient Egyptian symbology, the prospects of eternal life, existence of god, life in heaven and timeless true love of man and woman, can dwell in the story of the African mummy, K’tanu. K’tanu. His life opens the story in East Africa 4,000 years ago as he suffers seeing his family die from what appears to be the early Cobalt virus. Zip forward over six thousand years and the stage is set for Chris’ adventure.

The book pits the coldness of scientific inquiry and tests against the inner life of faith, love, and eternal life. No small task. Kemp seems to have his author’s intention of leading the reader to an answer, but he spends most of his effort raising the questions and laying out the madness and inconsistencies of thought and action under the press of fear. It’s an escape novel, well put together and cohesive in this jumps through time.

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