Gillian Anderson signs books at Simon via Twitter

Review by C.J. Bunce

In novels by the late Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton, the authors tended to start with a smattering of disparate events and a group of experts in different areas, political, scientific, whatever was needed to twist in new plot threads colliding into some unlikely confluence by novel’s end.  In Gillian Anderson’s first novel A Vision of Fire, Book One of the “Earthend Saga” and the inaugural work from Simon and Schuster’s new Simon451 imprint, she and Clancy-universe author Jeff Rovin build a similar framework.  But instead of following several characters we are introduced to one, a psychiatrist named Caitlin O’Hara, a doctor focused on mental issues of young people and single mother of a deaf son.  Using the advantages of modern communications technology, Caitlin must develop expertise in other fields, pulling together bits and pieces needed to attempt to connect what is behind a storm of seemingly unrelated bizarre events.

The novel’s contemporary New York setting is witness to a conflict similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis–two warring factions: India and Pakistan, are on the brink of nuclear war.  The international community is closely watching a negotiation between the countries, and the Indian ambassador to the United Nations is thought to be the one person who can calm tensions.  After an assassination attempt on the ambassador is witnessed by his teenaged daughter, she begins acting as if she is possessed, making strange movements and speaking in what could be ancient tongues.  Caitlin’s long-time friend pulls her into the girl’s case and she begins treating the girl, and soon notices other youths experiencing similar traumas across the globe.  Animals in proximity to the teens are also acting in unusual ways.  A coincidence?

A Vision of Fire Gillian Anderson   A Vision of Fire British cover

Elsewhere a team uncovers a metal artifact in an underwater expedition.  The artifact carries some unknown energy with it, and soon death begins to follow, something like the curse of King Tut’s tomb.  With mysticism like that found in The Fifth Element, body possessions similar to that of Skeleton Key and The Intruders, and acts of the long dead affecting lives in the present as in The Fog and The Others, Anderson’s world is part science fiction, part supernatural thriller.

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