The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Nightmare Journey is the account of Jask Zinn, who flees the enclave of “Pures” when it is discovered that he has developed telepathic powers. Jask’s journey, at first aimless and compelled only by Jask’s need to escape, takes purpose when he is joined at various stages by four companions: Tedesco, a bearlike subhuman; Chaney, a wolf-man; Chaney’s wife, Kiera; and Melopina, a human with minor genetic alterations who was conceived in an artificial womb. Together, the five travelers seek and eventually find the Black Presence, an alien power from another planet.

Set 100,000 years in the future, Nightmare Journey depicts Earth after a last great war has substantially reduced the number of surviving humans. The ruling elite among them, known as “Pures,” are contemptuous of altered humans who have been conceived in artificial wombs, as well as of other humans who have been poisoned by radiation.

The central character, Jask, at first believes that he is a Pure, but he is in fact an “esper,” or telepath. This condition should mean death for him because the Pures regard telepathy as a form of contamination. Jask flees the Pure enclave and reaches a nearby town, where he reluctantly joins forces with Tedesco. Together they journey on, Jask because he has no alternative and Tedesco because he believes in the existence of the Black Presence, a “monitor” left on Earth 85,000 years ago by alien visitors.


(The entire section is 552 words.)