HARBINGER by Jack Skillingstead

Book Quote:

“I wouldn’t let Laird know it, but I was impressed. Slightly. If nothing else, I was peering down upon a world that, after a generation or so, would forget I ever existed as “The Pointer.” Infinity wasn’t about consciousness evolution; it was about Laird’s ego evolution. And it was also about spreading the human seed beyond our solar system. In a fundamental way it was about escape. And I was all about escape. Except not this time. The price was too high.”

“Anyway,” I said, “have a nice trip.”


I did something that only looked brave if you happened to be weak-minded. Still, I was grateful for the cloud engulfing us. Heights tended to make me queasy.

I stepped forward off the scaffolding—

—and stumbled out of the broadcast environment and fetched up against the side of my cabin.


Book Review:

Review by Ann Wilkes (APR 2, 2010)

In his debut novel, Harbinger, Jack Skillingstead takes the reader to present day Earth in the midst of an evolutionary change. Ellis Herrick wakes up from a strange dream feeling different. More alive. And so does Nichole, the girl next door. So different, in fact, that she invites him to her room and her bed, even though they were just casual friends, neighbors, and she with a boyfriend. But wait, it’s not a coming of age story. Unless perhaps it’s the population of Earth that is coming of age.

After an auto accident, Ellis’ severed hand grows back. He’s whisked away to a strange hospital where his father signs him over to the care of a rich benefactor. But Langley Ulin is not a benefactor at all. He wants what Ellis has, even if he has to take it piecemeal.

Due to his regenerative abilities, Ellis becomes a source of organs for Langley, who doesn’t want to die. In a moment of weakness, Ellis signs a document that, in essence, makes him the old man’s property. Seemingly forever, since Ellis can’t die. Most people call Ellis “The Herrick,” some with awe, others with contempt.

He loses Nichole and becomes an emotional cripple, unable to have long-term relationships. He also can’t accept the evolutionary change that is happening not just to him, but to many people across the planet. He’s not even sure he believes in these Harbingers, the tree-shaped beings that have been spotted by some since the beginning of the change. Beings who may be responsible for the change. Or may be monitoring Earth’s progress.

About 150 years later, Ellis finds himself on a generational ship traveling to Ulin’s World, captive of Laird Ulin, Langley’s grandson. Ellis tries once more, after a long period of isolation to connect with another human being. He leaves the command level of the ship and takes a holiday in the artificial towns created on the lower levels. Ellis brings chaos to the strict rules of conduct of these self-contained villages that look like crosses between the Hollywood sets of State Fair and Stepford Wives.

Ellis Herrick’s twisted, strange journey is fascinating, as is his struggle with his forced relationship with his captor. He’s both victim of his circumstances and his own psyche. And yet, he’s The Herrick. Like patient zero for a plague, because of his altered state, he heralds the dawn of a new age. He’s not sure he wants to be a part of this evolutionary change, but he can’t escape it, not even through death.

The novel’s ending had me scratching my head, but it also made me think for days about evolution, fate and personal growth. I recommend this remarkable, mind-bending treatment of the evolution of the mind, the transcendence of time and space, immortality and so much more.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 6 readers
PUBLISHER: Fairwood Press, Inc (September 1, 2009)
REVIEWER: Ann Wilkes
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Jack Skillingstead
EXTRAS: ExcerptAnn Wilke’s interview with the author
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:


April 2, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Debut Novel, Speculative (Beyond Reality)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.