Harbinger

Harbinger

by Jack Skillingstead

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Overview

Six years after a drunk driver kills his mother and brother on Halloween night, Ellis Herrick awakens to find himself changed by a mysterious power. For the next two centuries Ellis pursues answers to the riddle of his immortality, a journey that takes him from the irredeemable past to the far reaches of outer space - and ultimately to the innermost caverns of his wounded psyche. Harbinger is a novel of adventure, evolution, imperishable love, and the shifting nature of personal reality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780982073032
Publisher: Fairwood Press LLC
Publication date: 05/28/2009
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)

About the Author

Jack Skillingstead grew up in a working class neighbourhood south of Seattle. He dropped out of college to work in a cannery in alaska, later travelling to Maine and then returning to the Pacific northwest. Skillingstead won a writing competition sponsored by Stephen King in 2000, and was a fi nalist for the Sturgeon award in 2004. He has published more than thirty short stories in publications including Asimov’s, F&SF and Realms of Fantasy. His work has also appeared in various Year’s Best volumes and Solaris Rising.

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Harbinger 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Arconna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit to my general disinterest in tales of immortality, which is absolutely a product of the cultural obsession with all manner of vampiric critters, glittering or otherwise. But when an author takes on the astonishingly difficult task of trying to tell a story through the eyes of a character who is essentially immortal starting from the moment of discovery and ending many hundreds of years later, it's hard to ignore.Harbinger follows Ellis Herrick, a teenager who has lost his mother and brother and who has a crush on his neighbor Nichole. But when a serious car crash dismembers him and puts him in the hospital, he discovers that he has an astonishing power: the ability to regrow any part of his body. Ellis, however, isn't the one most interested in this turn of events. Langley Ulin sees Ellis as the fountain of youth and wants to use the young man to keep himself alive forever. What follows is a decades long tale of Ellis' life on Earth, in space, and across the stars, a life filled with love, vengeance, pain, and wonder.As a love story, Harbinger functions in a most unusual manner. The relationship between Nichole and Ellis is rocky and complicated, not just because of Ellis' rather immature and confused actions, but also because of the fact that he doesn't age. The way Ellis deals with this problem differs from other novels of this kind: he moves around throughout life, never fixed to a position. The somewhat cosmopolitan (or rhizomatic, if you want to get theoretical) nature of Ellis' character is something to take note of as you read, because the conclusion of the novel directly comments upon this issue.Interesting too is how Ellis goes through life. Due to his condition, he is sought after by all manner of curious people, from those who want to use him as a medical experiment to those who are interested in telling his story, and so on. But Ellis, as previously mentioned, never stays fixed to any of these positions, sometimes on purpose, and other times due to various catalysts in his life (death is a prominent one). It might be difficult to understand at first, because he makes a lot of decisions that would seem stupid, but when put in the perspective of one being immortal and intentionally and unintentionally stuck in a position of independence by his "freak" nature, his life starts to make sense. There is a veritable gold mine of interesting analyses to be made about Ellis and the world that Skillingstead has set out to design here (perhaps someone will take on that task one day).Ellis is not hopeless, however. His character progresses in unusual ways, but he also acts as a particularly effective mirror for looking at ourselves. You could argue that Ellis lives many lives, and that each one is a reflection of our mortality. Like Ellis, we only get a handful of shots to pursue our greatest passions, and while Ellis certainly has more opportunities than most of us, he still suffers from his failures, because nothing is forever. Perhaps, in a way, by looking at Ellis, we can begin to understand why we are mortal in the first place, because to live through all that Ellis does would seem like a nightmare. Maybe I'm reaching, but it is something worth thinking about.Skillingstead has absolutely hit the nail on the head with Harbinger. While not a perfect novel, the very fact that Skillingstead has taken on such a daunting narrative task and succeeded in creating an engaging novel is worth noting. Harbinger never drags and each jump forward feels like a natural progression in terms of the narrative itself, which produces a kind of episodic, connected storyline leading to an uncertain conclusion. Perhaps Harbinger's greatest fault is that uncertainty; the conclusion leaves quite a lot of questions and does boggle the mind, which I found particularly problematic considering the clarity of everything preceding it--we understand everything from the motivations of the characters, the world built around them, and so on u