Very Bad Deaths

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Very Bad Deaths
Author Spider Robinson
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction, Speculative fiction novel
Publisher Baen Books
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
ISBN 0-7434-8861-X
OCLC 56012338
813/.54 22
LC Class PS3568.O3156 V47 2004
Followed by Very Hard Choices

Very Bad Deaths (Baen Books, 2004, ISBN 0-7434-8861-X), is a science-fiction/suspense-mystery novel from Canadian science fiction author Spider Robinson. The book was followed in 2008 by a sequel, Very Hard Choices. It explores the personal implications of uncontrolled telepathy, social responsibility, and the idea of evolutionary, biological evil, while, as usual, expounds on Spider's own political and social views.


What do you do, if you have iron-clad knowledge of a planned homicide of incredible depravity and cruelty, but have no evidence that would convince anyone "in authority"? This is the problem that faces Zandor "Smelly" Zudenigo, a telepath and hermit living on an island off Vancouver, Canada, when fate causes a serial killer to overfly his island, while thinking about his next planned multiple-murder. What can he do, especially since Zandor is incapable of turning his telepathy off, and exposure to other minds is excruciatingly painful?

Unable to deal with the thoughts or presence of most other human beings, Zandor turns to an old acquaintance, the book's narrator, Russell Walker: a depressed, reclusive, national newspaper columnist trying to deal with the death of his wife, and teetering on the edge of suicide. After explaining the situation, and dealing with Walker's depression, the two of them try to find a way to stop the crime from occurring. But how can they convince anyone? They cannot explain how the knowledge was obtained. They are not likely to be believed, and if they were, how long would Zandor stay out of the clutches of the intelligence agencies? Besides, Zandor only knows what the killer was thinking at the time, and how often do we happen to conveniently and consciously think of our full name and address?

Finally able to convince a single member of the Vancouver Police Department, constable Nika Mandic, the three of them try to track down the mysterious "Allen", while wrestling with the practical and moral implications of what to do about him once they find him.

Like many of Spider's novels, Very Bad Deaths is really a collection of inter-related and interwoven short stories, each telling part of a longer narrative in discrete slices of time. It is a technique that fans will recognize from novels such as Mindkiller.


The sequel to this book, Very Hard Choices, was released in 2008. The author read excerpts from this book in his "Spider on the Web" podcast.

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