The Doomsday Conspiracy

by Sidney Sheldon

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The Doomsday Conspiracy

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Commander Robert Bellamy is nearing retirement age and would like a cushy desk job; however, he is called in on a special assignment because of his unique skills. For one thing, the assignment requires familiarity with many difficult languages. He is given an unlimited budget but is told he must work strictly under cover.

Bellamy is ordered to locate the witnesses to the crash of a weather balloon was of a secret design and that the American authorities are anxious to identify the witnesses, who were all passengers aboard a tour bus, in order to swear them to secrecy.

When Bellamy reaches Switzerland he soon finds out that the so-called weather balloon was really a UFO and that the tour-bus passengers saw the bodies of two aliens from outer space. He uses all his expertise to identify the witnesses and relays their names and addresses back to his superior. What he does not know is that each witness is being murdered as quickly as he or she is identified.

Bellamy’s quest takes him all over Europe, North America, and Russia. The ruses he employs to learn witnesses’ names and addresses are sometimes truly ingenious and constitute the most interesting part of Sheldon’s book. As soon as Bellamy has completed his assignment, he finds that he himself has been placed on the hit list by a cabal of top-ranking officials of many different governments, who are concerned that the arrival of extraterrestrial visitors may cause worldwide panic or economic chaos. Facing imminent assassination, Bellamy receives unexpected help from a third alien creature, an exotic female with awesome psychic powers.

Sidney Sheldon was a highly successful film writer and went on to become an even more successful author of popular novels. THE DOOMSDAY CONSPIRACY is not very original either in theme or characterization; however, it is a thoroughly slick job of fiction writing, with an easy-to-follow plot that carries the reader on a luxury tour of Washington, Zurich, Bern, Geneva, London, Munich, Rome, Brussels, Ottawa, Kiev, Bucharest, Naples, and other interesting places. Sheldon’s new book is an example of what may become a dominant subgenre in the international thriller category: a post-Cold War novel in which governments are not pitted against one another but against their own constituents.

Literary Techniques

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The Doomsday Conspiracy is a hybrid piece of writing that employs the methods of romance, mystery, and science fiction stories. An ideal couple at the outset of their love affair, Robert Bellamy and Susan Ward enter a marriage which ends in divorce because his frequent absences and the secrecy and dangers of his work cause tensions that she cannot endure. Sheldon must arrange his plot so that despite her second marriage this pair can be reunited. Certain elements of the standard soap opera can be seen here.

A tour bus has stopped where the UFO, apparently a kind of shuttle craft, has crashed. Bellamy on what he is determined to make his last assignment, has been ordered to find all of the passengers who were on the tour that day and report their names and addresses to General Mark Hilliard. Each tourist meets what is made to appear an accidental death. The conspirators murder a number of people who live in various parts of North America and Europe. One of Sheldon's favorite techniques is to take his readers to many parts of the world. The Northwest Territories, Canada, Texas, London, Budapest, and Italy are part of the itinerary this time. Having fulfilled his assignment, Bellamy learns the fates of the people he has hunted down. He realizes that he also is...

(This entire section contains 621 words.)

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to be eliminated by the organization headed by the mysterious Janus. Readers of Sheldon's other novels may guess that Janus is the person whom Bellamy trusts the most, Admiral Ralph Whittaker.

A beautiful woman in white survives the crash of her space shuttle. Having lost the crystal that would enable her communicator to function, she is in danger of dying because she has difficulty finding the nutrients and water she requires. Bellamy goes to the scene of the crash and soon realizes that what came to earth was not a weather balloon as the authorities insist but something quite different. He finds the crystal. This part of the novel parallels the motion picture ET (1982), except that Sheldon takes his stranded alien a beautiful female. Book Two is called "The Hunted," and features Bellamy in Italy running from Janus's agents. The alien appears to him in a dream, and he senses that he must go back to Switzerland to meet her. An elusive eleventh witness had been seen by some of the people he had contacted. He finally realizes its identity. In Switzerland Bellamy meets the woman in white; in her presence he feels totally serene and he gives her the crystal. He has arranged with General Hilliard to bring Janus to Uetendorf. A helicopter brings the General, Monte Banks, Susan, and Admiral Whittaker, who is revealed to be Janus. Janus orders the capture of the woman in white and the execution of Bellamy. Whittaker had deliberately undermined Bellamy's marriage by sending him out of the country as often as possible. But the Admiral is in for a surprise. Another agent, Colonel Johnson, who had been working for him, has infiltrated Janus's organization in order to spy on its members. He arrests the Admiral and announces that all the members of his group were being rounded up. The woman in white's mothership appears and in a scene reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), including the music accompanying its landing, resolves the story. This deux ex machina takes Admiral Whittaker, General Hilliard, and Monte Banks, when it leaves. They must be reeducated: "When they have learned, they will be brought back here." The woman in white gives Bellamy his new lifelong mission; he must stop the devastation of planet earth. He and Susan are reunited. In this plot, Sheldon employs ideas and images likely to be familiar to his audience.

Social Concerns

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In The Doomsday Conspiracy Sheldon exposes the failure of the military and other governmental organizations to tell the truth about certain events that they would prefer not to explain. The rationale is usually: Why alarm the public unnecessarily about phenomena they cannot understand? Since the authorities themselves are basically ignorant about extraterrestrial beings, they, rather than making any attempt to meet them and learn their purposes, automatically classify their appearances as enemy action.

Robert Bellamy is hoping to end his career in espionage soon. He has worked for years with organizations that violate almost every standard of decency. He has decided that the benefits derived from espionage do not outweigh the lies, manipulations, and broken promises that have characterized his world over the years. Dehumanization is the price paid by all too many of those people who protect our national security.

Literary Precedents

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No single work of literature seems to be the source of Sheldon's novel. He borrows freely from several of popular literary genres, the romance, mystery stories, espionage thrillers, and science fiction. He has also been influenced by cinematic techniques — quite natural for someone with many motion pictures and television shows to his credit.

Adaptations

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Sheldon, having bought back the rights to The Doomsday Conspiracy, plans to write a screenplay version. To date, he has given no indication of when he will bring this play to movie or television audiences.

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