Special Deliverance by Clifford D. Simak

With cover art by Michael Whelan. I believe the cover artists don’t get enough credit for these things. I wonder what sales would be like if every book was just a plain white cover with black text of the author and title. The cover and sales are of course irrelevant to how good the book is, however, without some level of sales it’s unlikely I’d have stumbled across this book in the first place.

Special Deliverance contains a plot element where a group of seemingly random strangers are mysteriously brought together. Stephen King’s the Langoliers also used this. I’m sure there are more books where this happens, and I wonder if it has a name.

The story is kind of a like an adventure game, with several locations the characters wander back and forth from without knowing what to do, There are various types of wilderness in between these locations, such as badlands, desert, forest, etc.

This was the second to last novel Simak published before he passed away. Actually now that I think about it there seems to be a lot of symbolic death contained in it, as if this was a prevailing theme in the author’s subconscious seeking expression. No doubt Simak being an elderly man at the time of writing had seen many friends and family pass away and was wondering when his own end would come.

There was also a skillful use of suspense. Simak seems to greatly enjoy building up a sense of mystery and making the readers ask questions, only to prolong the answers to those questions as long as possible. This is the type of personality that as a kid goes around saying to people “I’ve got a secret” and when they ask what, the child replies “I’m not telling you”. He did it well though, it was interesting. Visionary in some parts.

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