Thursday, March 19, 2009

Darwin's Race-Brian Ullmann

Darwin's Race
Brian Ullmann
Medallion, May 2009, $7.95
ISBN 9781934755075

Reality television producer Terrance Carlton believes the ratings are everything. Thus he is euphoric with the concept of two teams consisting of six kick butt experienced mountain climbers on each competing to reach the summit of unconquered 19,492 feet Kuk Sur in the Tibetan Himalayas; the first person to reach the top of the inaccessible peak with the world’s biggest and deepest canyon Tsangpo Gorge to add to the improbability of success receives $2 million.

Millionaire Preston Child agrees to finance the event on the condition he and his daughter Malika are participants though the pair refuse to explain their rationale for climbing the mountain. Veteran mountaineer Conner Michaels has a personal reason to climb, he seeks the lost corpse of his brother Tucker who died on Kuk Sur six years ago when the siblings were one day from attaining the summit. Others have agendas mostly involving fame, fortune or both. Carleton arranges for each person to hoist a camera on their shoulder so the audience can see everything live. Between the treacherous mountain, the horrific climate, the deadly gorge, and apparently a yeti, no one on the mountain is safe. However, the most dangerous element is the humans especially those hidden in the mists.

The climb up the mountain is fast-paced and exciting from the onset and never slows down as unforgiving nature and even less sympathetic humans ballet for the grand prize. Instead of being fully developed characters, each climber has a personal agenda that mostly defines who they are; this works as the most complete “player” is the main antagonist, the mountain. Fans will enjoy trekking up the impenetrable Kuk Sur alongside the participants of DARWIN’S RACE.

Harriet Klausner