Charles L. Grant
Legion

Legion is the tenth item in a vast future history whose component stories (ten not yet written) take two pages to list. After toiling so long on this saga, Charles L. Grant seems to have lost patience with readers so repulsive as not to have studied his earlier works: Legion, for neophytes like myself, is somewhat bewildering. The setting is North America (subtly contracted to "Noram") centuries hence, de-populated to an improbable degree by something called the PlagueWind. This features in numerous oaths -- just as World War II survivors notoriously swear "V-2 take it!" or "By the gas-chambers!"

Other sf props include Alpha, apparently a starship Out There somewhere, which is mentioned a couple of times as something everybody knows about (except the reader) and assorted androids which are mechanical yet just sufficiently organic to be affected by Plague, which cleverly turns them into berserk killers. Of central importance to the book and the saga is the Parric family, who can be distinguished (a) by a blond streak in their hair and (b) by the fact that people look to them for leadership (reason not given; like Alpha, this is doubtless explained in an earlier book).

Since the hero -- one Mathew Parric -- spends his time in a haze of bewilderment rivalling my own, it's difficult to take seriously the intricate subterfuges of a master-villain whose plans for Noram domination require dozy Mathew as an essential partner/figurehead. Much wandering and wondering ensues; all ends confusedly in a prolonged fight whose excitement sends the author's prose, not for the first time, into brain-rotting staccato ...

He reached down and freed his knife. Almost jumped as he sought desperately for a way to use it.

Wanted to weep.

Wanted to scream as Shem climbed to the bow ...

Wanted to stop reading.