The Devil's Calling

The Devil's Calling

by Michael Kelley

Narrated by Craig Andrew

Digital Original — 17 hours, 51 minutes

The Devil's Calling

The Devil's Calling

by Michael Kelley

Narrated by Craig Andrew

Digital Original — 17 hours, 51 minutes

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Dive into the second entry in Mike Kelley's spellbinding trilogy, with freethinking literature professor Sean Byron McQueen returning for another high-stakes adventure in the near future of chat bots, supercomputers and brain computer interface.

It's been nine years since Sean Byron McQueen and quantum physics professor Emily Edens-aka M-discovered his murdered best friend's Theory of Everything. Now, Sean and M live a near-idyllic life on the campus of a college they've established for young women. M's teaching of the new paradigm-shifting theory of constant creation has made her a rock-star scientist.

When Sean's missing spiritual guide, Juno-believed to have been abducted by aliens that are targeting enlightened beings-sends him a telepathic message that his beloved and illuminated M is also in danger, Sean becomes hypervigilant in order to protect her.

Meanwhile, troubling AI-produced literature begins arriving in Sean's inbox, and the culprit may be an ex-CIA operative with the code name Guru who is intent on revenge. Sean presumes the Guru is also the mastermind behind Genesis, a super-intelligent Russian computer that will connect humans via a network of direct brain-to-brain links. Genesis is seen as the next evolutionary step by the wired-in nation (WiN), a group determined to create a New Society. Are the Guru and WiN after M, who is determined to ensure the ethical rollout of the dangerous “hive-mind” technology, or are the threats figments of Sean's vivid imagination-his superpower and curse?

Editorial Reviews

BookLife Reviews


Kelley’s ambitious follow up to 2021’s science-meets-spirituality thriller The Lost Theory stands as another literate cosmological epic, this time finding its professor heroes—Sean McQueen, literature, and Emily Edens, quantum physics—facing the fallout in 2027, both good and terrifying, of their adventure nine years before, which involved the discovery and sharing of a murdered poet colleague’s world-changing “theory of everything.” The good: Raising kids, relishing Emily’s Nobel nomination, running a new college for women, and adjusting to a world that they’ve fundamentally changed. Their first brush with the bad comes from telepathic messages (“They come like coded packets of information that then bloom into a knowing within my mind”) received by Ting, the sister of their missing spirit guide, Juno. Has Juno ascended to a higher plane—or perhaps been abducted by beings we have no better term for than “aliens”?

From there, Kelley offers a sprawling, thoughtful epic involving intelligence agencies that the heroes bested in the previous book, a terrifying secret society, a “brain-mapping quantum computer” capable of controlling the human mind, and the tantalizing truth, teased early on, that “Our science fiction was the government’s secret truth.” Thriller readers should be aware that, among the many surprises on offer, Kelley favors thinking through the spiritual and philosophical implications of his ideas over fisticuffs and chases, though bursts of action (such as a set piece involving a wildfire or a showdown involving a branding) are handled with crisp clarity.

The second in a projected trilogy, The Devil’s Calling again centers the romance between its leads, and their embrace of spiritual practice—they meditate more often than they throw punches. That emphasis (and a luminous ending) will please readers who share that inclination, though the near-future technology is not developed to the standards of tech-thrillers. Refreshingly, narrator McQueen actually thinks like a lit prof, offering “a prayer that Dickens, not Kafka, would be the author of my ending.”

Takeaway: An ambitious thriller, blending science, spiritualism, advanced AI, and possible alien abduction.

Great for fans of: Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies, Ramez Naam’s Nexus Trilogy.

Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A- Marketing copy: A

Kirkus Reviews

An academic and author, celebrated for revealing a scientific cosmology that refutes the Big Bang theory, fears harm will befall his lover as she embarks on a lecture tour.

Heaven (or Buddha or Vishnu) help those attempting to read Kelley’s sequel without first pilgrimaging through his debut New Age/SF thriller, The Lost Theory (2021). The discipleship curve is steep. Romantic literature scholar Sean McQueen published a hit book elucidating the theory of “constant creation”—an alternative cosmology to the Big Bang that has a strong correlation to Eastern mysticism. The result: Materialism-inclined villains invested in the status quo (particularly big tech heads, espionage types, and authoritarians) nearly killed Sean and his soul mate, scientist Emily “M” Edens. Several years later, the lovers run a female-oriented yogic college, Deeksha West, in coastal Oregon. M enjoys rock-star status as she starts a European lecture tour that challenges an upcoming human-machine digital interface. Meanwhile, Sean prepares a sequel to his bestseller, The Lost Theory (of course entitled The Devil’s Calling). But cherished mentor Juno gives Sean a troubling prediction that M will soon be “lost.” Potential threats include an old CIA enemy; Petrovsky, the post–Vladimir Putin Russian dictator; and those behind the trendy push to mass-link human brains everywhere in cyberspace (promising a utopia but setting the stage for a zombie takeover via artificial intelligence). Are Juno and Sean just paranoid? What is behind the bad vibes? With the hero’s dense, first-person prose covering reams of pop-culture references (song lyrics, especially), this novel offers a liberal arts milieu in which possibly fraudulent stanzas of Shelley and an antique painting hold immense importance. Imagine Umberto Eco emerging from a Shirley MacLaine retreat in Sedona, Arizona, where perhaps Dan Brown blockbusters were the only distraction. Things take an awfully long time to happen, and when they do, much verbiage results before anything is settled. Even then, a cliffhanger ending points pagodalike to the next volume, with many of the chess pieces still in play. Kelley’s ideas are intriguing, and readers will suspect the smart author is more of a grounded realist than his vision-struck, alien-believing narrator, Sean. But the engaging text is an acquired taste for adventure seekers, with the emphasis on seekers.

A charming, heavily New Age–influenced SF thriller that requires deep dives into dharma.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940175937412
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
Publication date: 10/18/2022
Edition description: Digital Original
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