Cover image for Down there in darkness
Down there in darkness
Turner, George, 1916-1997.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : TOR, 1999.
Physical Description:
352 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
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Turner was a significant Australian novelist before turning to SF in the 1970s and becoming one of the great living SF writers, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel. This novel chronicles the future destruction and eventual rebirth of human civilization.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Harry Ostrov, a "copper," is pulled into the strange case of Steven Warlock, a famous painter. Using a sophisticated variant of the sensory deprivation experiments from the 1970s, scientists in 2070 place Warlock "down there in darkness" in order to study the mental processes of his art. But the experimenters are unable to awaken Warlock until 34 years later, and then only by placing another subject "down there," Ostrov's friend Gus Kostakis. Kostakis relates the second portion of Turner's story, revealing the discovery of a racial consciousness or universal mind that is not far different from the aboriginal concept of "dream time." By 2170, humankind will be spiraling downward, unable to feed and educate itself, but the universal consciousness will ensure that the past is never lost and that the race can progress even to the stars. The late Turner's last novel, full of allusions to his earlier work and with an ironic hope arising from his trademark dour future, fittingly ends his long career. --John Mort

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his final novel, SF master Turner, who died in 1997, presents an eerie vision of the future. By the year 2070, "the four horsemen of the greenhouse apocalypse"Äoverpopulation, pollution, nationalism and unemploymentÄhave made life nearly intolerable for the sunburned denizens of Victoria, Australia. In the middle of a January heat wave, police detective Harry Ostrov is assigned to what he hopes will be a career-saving case. The painter Brian Warlock has been in a comata-like state for 20 years, the victim of an electronically induced hypnosis experiment gone awry. Now a psychiatrist who was present at the original procedure will try to reanimate the artist in order to resolve a dispute over the ownership of several of his valuable paintings, and Ostrov's secretive boss has asked the cop to spy on the operation. Ostrov requests help from his friend Gus Kostakis (his ally in The Destiny Makers), and the two soon become embroiled in a plot to tap the depths of the human unconscious. Falling victim to foul play, Ostrov and Kostakis are captured, frozen and defrosted 100 years later. Upon awakening, they are confronted by a dystopia in which the overpopulation problem has been brutally resolved by a powerful, sanctimonious scientist. Employing radical time changes and alternating points of view, Turner creates a land reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World. His narrative innovatively blends conceptual art, aboriginal philosophy and genetic engineering, and his characters display a memorable vibrancy. Nonetheless, as Turner had just completed the draft of this novel before he died, it often reads more like a collection of intriguing ideas strung together than a fully polished work. (May) FYI: According to the publisher, Turner is to be the Guest of Honor at the 1999 World SF Convention in Australia. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In a dystopic future Australia, policeman Harry Ostrov acts as a witness to the resuscitation of artist Brian Warlock, locked in a coma for 30 years, and plunges into a dark conspiracy aimed at seizing control of the future. Turner's lucid prose and bold imagination combine in a tale that contains elements of sf noir, police procedural, and metaphysical fiction. Published posthumously (Turner died in 1997), this compelling and disturbing exploration of the darkness of the human soul belongs in most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.