—The BadAss Dispatch
4/19/2000  p. 23




by Thomas Saint Shade
(Athenæum Press, © 2000)

This pretentious, ponderous offering of gnostic subplots and cryptic in-jokes is enough to curdle water. A rambling religious sermon weakly disguised as sardonic science fiction, essene attempts to explore esoteric Christianity, dementia, and the problems that arise when you and the afterlife fail to meet each others’ expectations. Tasteless tripe at its lowest, and needlessly complicated with obscure references to even more obscure irrelevancies like Freemasonry, Kabbalah, and the JFK assassination. The framework is based on tarot cards, fer Chris’sake, and the plot conflict is a deliberately incorrect interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas. Ultimately this novel is an ideological plagiarism of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, both of which present a worst-case scenario of the best-case situation. essene’s ending, if it even is an ending, makes no sense. I strongly suspect the author typed this with one hand while the other masturbated over The Dead Sea Scrolls. What was he thinking? What was he smoking? I am outraged that a tree had to die to have this crap printed on it! 

On the bright side, essene is shorter than War and Peace, more optimistic than 1984, less complicated than Ulysses, funnier than An Illustrated History of Dentistry, and more believable than The Warren Report.

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