Title: The Santaroga Barrier
Author: Frank Herbert
Page Count: 208
This book was super weird, and that’s a good thing. Plot-wise, it’s basically about a creepy small town in America that’s super insular and where weird stuff is constantly going on. A dude called Dasein is sent in to carry out an investigation, and he rapidly finds himself on the receiving end of a series of accidents, each of which could have ended his life.
That gives the book a cloying, paranoid kind of feel, a lot of which is due to us following Dasein’s thought processes. At the same time, he’s becoming more and more Santarogan, and he’s well aware of the fact. Due to the fact that there’s a physical substance in the cheese and the beer, something a bit like LSD but which awakens all sorts of weird stuff in the brain, he might never be able to leave.
There were elements here that reminded me of Stephen King’s Desperation, and that’s a good thing. In fact, I think this is the most approachable thing that I’ve read of Herbert’s, and it’s definitely written more simply than his Dune books. I’m glad I read it!