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Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps
J. Gregory Keyes
Ace Books, 307 pages

Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps
J. Gregory Keyes
J. Gregory Keyes was born in Meridian, Mississippi. Part Navajo with an interest in writing and storytelling, he received a BA degree in Anthropology from Mississippi State University.  He and his wife live in Seattle, Washington.  J. Gregory Keyes' other novels include Newton's Cannon, The Waterborn and The Blackgod.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Newton's Cannon

Past Feature Reviews
A review by S. Kay Elmore

Like a good deal of the SF fans out there, I am a huge fan of Babylon 5. Our house used to come to a grinding halt every Wednesday at 8:00 so we could get lost in the best space opera to ever hit television. Phones went unanswered, or calls were cut short with a curt, "Gotta go, man. Babfive is on." I suppose that the appearance of media fiction centred on Babylon 5 was inevitable, but the previous books I'd seen had all been novelizations of existing screenplays. When I found Dark Genesis on the shelf, I bought it as soon as I realized that this was a new novel, not a screenplay adaptation. Another bonus for Dark Genesis is author J. Gregory Keyes giving flesh to the J. Michael Straczynski (JMS to his fans) outline.

Dark Genesis begins in 2115, and chronicles the discovery of genuine psychic powers in humans and the formation of the Psi Corps. It's a simple plot and a quick but exciting read. One of the formulas that kept the TV series so interesting was the use of foreshadowing and bizarre connections that didn't resolve for nearly two seasons or more. Dark Genesis tries to keep this same flavour alive by spanning nearly two human generations. Unfortunately for the book, this same kind of foreshadowing doesn't work for the fannish reader. I know what is behind any particular event because I watched the series and paid attention. Some of the big revelations come as no surprise. When it comes down to the story it's a little fragmented, but darned entertaining.

Alice Kimbrell has a problem. Should she accept an oddball abstract for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine? Everyone knows that psychic powers are ridiculous, but two unknown grad students from Harvard seem to have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that telepathy exists. She publishes the article and, predictably, all hell breaks loose. Senator Lee Crawford, an astute politician, and staunch supporter of the Earth Alliance space program, sees this as his guarantor of a long career and through his connections and political machinations, plants the seeds of what will become Psi Corps.

When word gets out that telepaths are among us, the predictable intolerance of our species rears its ugly head. It's the Salem witch trials all over again, with people accused of telepathy being murdered in the thousands by vigilantes. Small families of telepaths band together for protection, comfort, and of course, revenge against the normals that have slaughtered their kind. We meet Blood, Mercy, and Smoke; they and their family of telepaths take a gamble that Senator Crawford is their best chance for survival, and strike up a deal with him. They become the Kith. Driven to seek out their own kind from hiding, they'll stop at nothing to save the life of a "teep," even if a normal gets in the way. After all, "The Kith is mother..."

The sub-plots and generational story line get truly complex, and it's all Keyes can do to keep up with them. I was struck by how choppy the chapters flow -- you may be skipping from one decade to another in the space of two pages. Some chapters are little more than powerful vignettes that string together the events of many years into one cohesive holocaust. Overall, it's an interesting first step away from the screenplay fare of earlier Babylon 5 books, and successfully heralds a new creative outlet for this popular media universe.

Copyright © 1999 S. Kay Elmore

S. Kay Elmore is a graphic artist, writer and corporate wage slave. She edits The Orphic Chronicle, an online magazine, and tries to make ends meet by writing and developing corporate newsletters and web sites.

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