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What do sick Hawaiian scuba divers, a mysterious mutant-human burial ground, an erupting Maui volcano, and a nefarious Japanese multinational corporation have in common? Saul calls the muddled, slow-in-coming answer ”speculative fiction.” Surely he’s not also referring to speculations the reader might have, such as, Why are the characters — a pair of beautiful scientists, a dastardly Master of the Universe — little more than cardboard cutouts? And why are the suspense scenes, usually one of the author’s strengths, so generic? Saul’s best-seller-making presence is hardly felt in this bland effort. C-

The Presence
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