Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Christopher Pike Chain Letter, Chain Letter 2, and The Tachyon Web

Chain Letter is another early Christopher Pike novel from 1986.

In Chain Letter, Alison receives an anonymous letter signed "Your Caretaker."  The letter requires Alison to perform an unpleasant task.  Once Alison performs the task, she is to give the letter to the next person on the list.  All of the names are of friends who were present when a man was run over in the desert.  The friends buried his body and swore never to tell anyone what happened.  Now somebody knows, and that person is out for revenge.

This story is similar in premise to Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer.  This is another book that I never liked as much as Pike's later books.  I had trouble enjoying it this time simply because I remembered the culprit, and that took away from my enjoyment.

The sequel to Chain Letter was not published until 1992, so it is not an early Pike novel. However, I have placed it here since it goes with the original Chain Letter.  The writing style and tone of Chain Letter 2 is different from the first book, since Pike had fully developed his style by 1992.

In Chain Letter 2, the letters begin coming again. But this time, the original Caretaker is dead.  The friends soon discover that the new Caretaker is not messing around.  When a task is not completed, the person is immediately killed.  The new Caretaker is brutal.

The original Chain Letter has no supernatural aspect to the plot.  In this book, the reader learns about the real Caretaker, who is a supernatural creature—a very evil creature.

I enjoyed this book.

The Tachyon Web is the last of what I consider to be Pike's early novels.  The Tachyon Web was originally published in 1986 and was reissued in 1996.  The pictured book is the 1996 edition.

In The Tachyon Web, the solar system is surrounded by the Tachyon Web, which is used to keep spaceships from traveling into deep space.  A group of teenagers uses a spaceship to exploit a weak spot in the Tachyon Web.  The ship makes a hyper jump to the Andromeda Sector.  After the hyper jump, the ship is too close to a supernova and is damaged.  The teens must fly the ship to an alien convoy so that they can obtain the necessary supplies to repair their ship.

This story was hard to get into because the science fiction descriptions in the opening chapters are excessively detailed.  The book also has too many characters who are introduced too quickly.  Once the hyper jump occurs, the story gets very interesting.

The italicized word in this description on page 189 really stands out.
The trimmings were sparse:  a couple of plants, a shelf packed with old-fashioned paper books, a family portrait hanging on one wall.
This book is set centuries in the future, but it was published in 1986.  Paper books were all we had at that time.  The emphasis on paper really struck me, since 31 years later, paper books are on the way out.  It isn't going to take centuries for paper books to disappear.

Even though The Tachyon Web is not that interesting at the start, it is overall an excellent book.  The last half of the book is quite exciting and thrilling.  This is the strongest of Pike's early books.

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