Rick Moody (The Ice Storm) offers a harrowing send-up of classic science fiction in The Four Fingers of Death, his first novel in five years. It’s sci-fi as only Moody could write it—in turns touching and outrageous—and this hypnotic, 700-page novel is the author’s best in years.
Montese Crandall is a struggling writer living in the Arizona desert in the year 2025. He lives mostly off his rare-baseball collection, using the money to care for his ailing wife. To pay for her double lung transplant, he takes a job writing the novelization of the 2025 remake of The Crawling Hand, a real horror film from 1963 about a severed arm that goes on a killing spree in a California coastal town. Much of the novel is taken up by this story within a story. Moody (or Crandall) tells of Earth’s doomed first mission to Mars, from which only a severed arm, missing the middle finger, returns. Moody may have dedicated his novel to Kurt Vonnegut—who serves as the book’s most obvious influence—but what he’s really managed to do is make science fiction his own.
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