Sunday, January 16, 2022

To the Vanishing Point, by Alan Dean Foster (author), Joel Richards (narrator)

Dreamscape Media LLC, ISBN 9781520051574, December 2016 (original publication January 1988)

This book was written in the late 1980s, and to the extent that it's set on our world, it's set in the late 1980s. An upper middle class American family sets out on an RV road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Husband and father Frank Sonderberg was sure it would be a fun, educational adventure for his kids, sixteen-year-old Wendy and 10-year-old Steven. Wife and mother Alecia was not so sure, and really, Frank should have listened to his wife. The kids are hating it--and it turns out, the area they're traveling through is less interesting than Frank expected.

Then they see a young woman standing by the side of the highway in the middle of the desert. She's alone. She has no luggage--and apparently not car. After a quick debate, they stop to picker her up.

Her name is Mohostosocia, or, she says, "Call me Mouse." She's blond, darker-skinned, wearing a "sari-like" garment. Frank can't place her, ethnically. Mouse says she's a singer, and that she's heading for, not Vegas, but a little past Vegas. They conclude she must be headed for a singing job at one of the casinos or nightclubs, because that makes sense, even though it's inconsistent with what she said. Mouse has, in fact, said that her task is to sooth the Spinner and stop breaks in the fabric of reality.

It's after Mouse joins them that things go a little weird. There's the odd and disturbing events at the gas station, The strange, rat-like creatures that attack the motor home. The discovery that the gas they bought is not good gas.
The very strange patrol officers that stop to help, start asking strange questions, and finally, having lured Wendy into the patrol car. order Frank to follow them into town.

The town isn't the town they expected to reach. It's Hades Station. This is where they start to realize that something might really be wrong with reality. While there, they meet Burnfingers Begay, escape, and head on to their next weird adventure.

Every time they things have returned to normal, they find they are wrong. Whatever is trying to destroy the Spinner is attacking them, and the Sonderbergs have become too associated with Mouse to achieve safety merely by dropping her off and heading on their way.

The characters are well-drawn, and grow and change in the course of their adventures. What had become the hated motor home, is becoming their vital piece of reality. Each of them finds new resources in themselves as they continue their harrowing journey, and struggle to reach the "Vanishing Point," at which Mouse should be able to do her job.

It's fun, fast, and truly absorbing. And yes, it's also a slice of the 1980s, and Alecia's only job is being the wife and mom, and one of our major characters is a Magic Indian--though I can honestly say I've encountered far worse. They are also both individuals. Just--be aware. They are also, simultaneously, stereotypes.

Nevertheless, recommended. It really is a lot of fun.

I bought this audiobook.

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