Top critical review
Move along. Nothing to see here
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2020
THE ADVERSARY CYCLE by FP Wilson, culminating in the epic novel, NIGHTWORLD, is one of the all-time classic works in sci-fi-fantasy. It is the keystone work upon which Wilson bases his modern day Lovecraftian mythos about cosmic entities from beyond space and time that are locked in an eternal battle for the Earth, all behind the scenes. This History permeates almost all of Wilson's fiction since THE KEEP, published in 1981 and extending throughout all of the REPAIRMAN JACK novels, the three novel ICE SEQUENCE and a large number of one off novels up through 2019. One day I stumbled across THE TOMB (the first RJ novel published in 1984) in paperback in a CVS in 2000. It was great and I went out and ordered all the FPW RJ novels and ADVERSARY CYCLE novels and read them all as soon as I could get my hands on them. I have reviewed most of them here and almost everything was 4 or 5 star material.
At the end of NIGHTWORLD (first published in 1992 and then heavily revised and re-released in 2012 to become congruent with the RJ novels), FP Wilson stated (many times) that there would be no more novels taking place after the conclusion of NIGHTWORLD. But he got around that by writing additional RJ (and other) novels that were set earlier in time, that continued the *Secret History of the World* to great effect. These too, were wonderful.
And now we have SIGNALZ. A brand new novella that runs in parallel with NIGHTWORLD, with all (but one) new characters, and taking place at the same time and places, but from a different point of view. It starts with a teenaged Ellie who, along with her mother is visiting her older sister attending University in NYC. Ellie hears something that no one else hears that draws her to Sheep Meadow in Central Park (well known to readers of NIGHTWORLD and other past FPW works). Something terrible happens and Ellie ends up in coma for months. When she awakens, she is... radically changed. At this point we synchronized with the start of NIGHTWORLD, give or take a day.
So far, so good, but then it all goes rapidly downhill. There is little or nothing new revealed about the Secret History. There are several callbacks to WARDENCLYFFE, an excellent one-off FPW part of the Secret History. We revisit a couple of characters and organizations that played key roles in THE ADVERSARY CYCLE and the RJ series. A couple of brand new characters are introduced. They are sort of interesting but eventually go nowhere, and by the end, which is synchronous with roughly the start of the really interesting events of NIGHTWORLD, we have really gone nowhere.
Yes, there are the typical well written FPW terror-inducing Lovecraftian scenes (but we've seen this all before) but really, there is nothing new here to see. If anything, SIGNALZ kind of leaves a bad taste in the mouths of big time fans of all the series and novels mentioned above. And if you happen to NOT have read most or all of these, I doubt that much of this novella will make much sense to you.
It pains me greatly to write this review. But I calls 'em as I sees em. FPW is a great writer. But this time he whiffed.