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Fear That Man

Book Review   by:BenUriel     Original Author: Dean R. Koontz
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"Fear that Man" is an early (1970) novel by Dean R. Koontz that combines two stories “the Shield” (1969) and “Where the Beasts Run” (1969) and extends them in a third part. The novel was published on the back of Toyman by E. C. Tubb. The story starts with Sam awakening in a starship heading for new human homeworld Hope. He remembers only his name. He is alone and soon finds that the equipment and weapons are not really mechanical but filled with some sort of protoplasmic material. Realizing that Earth has eschewed violence for generations, he fears in his amnesiac state that he has been primed for some evil purpose. The ship’s computer is enigmatic. He comes upon a stranded spaceman in the void. Sam rescued the man, a mutant named Hurkos and when he touched Hurkos, he saw his violent dream of the death of his wife in a Cathedral. Hurkos is a telepath and was trying to suicide in space. Sam was suddenly compelled by an outside force to navigate to Hope, the central world of mankind; he regained self-control threw the ship out of hyperspace to find another traveler whose ship he had wrecked, genius poet laureate Gnossoss (knowledge) Mikos (long) whose anger was quickly assuaged by the puzzle of trying to figure out who Sam was and who was trying to control him. Gnossoss quickly understood the ship was alive and moved the three of them to his own ship destroying Samuel’s ship with explosives. Gnossoss believed that Sam was hypnotized to some evil purpose and that at certain times he would lose control and act. Gnossoss and Hurkos agreed to stop him if that happened. Sam had another vision of the Crucifixion. Gnossoss recognized this as the story of Christ. They arrived on Hope.

On Hope, corporate president Breadloaf was watching the Shield behind which God was imprisoned. Broadleaf’s family had found God in an adjacent dimension and trapped Him behind a Shield hoping to control Him. By the time they found out they could not they feared letting Him out because of His anticipated revenge. While behind the Shield, God could not influence human events, and violence had virtually ceased among humans. But God was trapped and angry and trying to get out. Samuel and his companions found Breadloaf and the Shield, but then some of God’s followers had found and destroyed the Shield. God was the shape of a small pink worm, and Hurkos stepped on Him killing Him.


The story quickly switches to a trio of Bounty Hunters who ensure that the most dangerous beasts on hunting worlds are removed so sport hunters won’t end up dead. They were on Earth (which had been heavily irradiated in the distant past) on congressman Horner’s ranch under the direction of his aide Samuel Pen (the same Sam but now surnamed “Penuel” Hebrew for “face of God” by Gnossoss) seeking a particularly vicious beast. The three were Crazy, a horselike mutant, Lotus, a winged flying mutant and Andrew Coro. Crazy and Andrew got sidetracked with a huge mutated spider but were rescued at the last minute by Lotus. They tracked the beast to an old nuclear blast crater and then into iridescent bubble roofed tunnels abutting its glassed surface. It turned out that the Beast was a powerful telepath that used a hunter or intruder’s own thoughts against them and then killed them. Andrew tracked, wounded and managed to kill it.


Sam Penuel and Andrew’s team were sent to investigate the sudden termination of all contact with Chaplin 1. On arrival his ship was hit with a missile. He escaped with Andrew’s team onto the planet’s surface to find an immense ship of worm beings (Raceship) bent on destroying all human life (the creation of a rival God). The Raceship was an immense “hive ship” full of creatures that were like God that Hurkos had destroyed. As insignificant as God had seemed, he was the most important being in the Universe and his destruction had sent the Universe out of balance. Now beings of His kind were coming to colonize human space destroying God’s creations as they went. Andrew and Sam scouted the ship, but the telepathic field of the invaders almost trapped them. They devised a way to enter the ship and destroy the Core – the God above God that had come into our universe after God was killed. The Raceship left for Hope and the Sam’s group followed in a ship abandoned on the depopulated Chaplin world but losing Crazy in the process. On Earth, unable themselves to kill the sentient Core, they used Jack Buronto, a sadomasochistic atavism still capable of violence to sentient beings, to be their assassin. Buronto entered the Core chamber but could not kill it. It killed him. Because he was a masochist, he enjoyed his own death, which drove the Core insane as Sam had predicted. Fairly typical ‘60’s pop psychodrama. Don’t worry if you don’t get it. The Raceship and its inhabitants were rendered mindless and harmless. Samuel was distressed that by destroying a more powerful “God”, the next rung on the ladder, he was opening the way for serial invasions by ever higher beings.


This was written when Koontz was still struggling with his religious beliefs (he shortly thereafter joined the Catholic Church - his dedication indicates he was also reading Nietzsche at the time). His book should not be seen as sacrilege but as a young author exploring theological questions in the context of a novel. Dangerous stuff. But you have to admit, the kinds of questions he raises are not the sort that concern the irreligious. The "death of God" was a huge topic back when Koontz wrote this. Now people just think He is or else He just never was.

Published: December 25, 2011   
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  1. 1. BenUriel

    Beast

    There is no apparent allegory written into the Yeti-like Beast Andrew hunted or Andrew's name. Lotus was the female, gorgeous lover (with all encompassing gossamer wings) of both Crazy and Andy. Well it was the '60's. Koontz hadn't started naming any of his characters Anson yet. Why Anson?

    0 Rating Monday, December 26, 2011
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