Stepfather Bank

I actually am working on several new reviews, so I’m not going to start another series.

The first mention I saw of this book was a review of the hardcover, and it was rather hard, back in 1989, to find any copy of it.

Poyer started out in science fiction and has moved on to greener pastures.

Raw Feed (1989): Stepfather Bank, D. C. Poyer, 1987.stepfather-bank

One of the review blurb’s for this novel states it has a resemblance to Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination. That is true.

Monaghan Burlew, like Gully Foyle, is an uneducated, unintellectual, slovenly, gutter talking (his language is rather like Foyle’s) nobody who is transformed into an educated, driven agent of social change (and, like Foyle, there is something of a vengeance motive).

Like The Stars My Destination, there is a scene of physical transcendence when Burlew’s mind is transformed into a light signal that manipulates the sun itself to save the world.

The scene of Burlew’s death reminded me of Charles L. Harness’ The Paradox Men, a novel also somewhat reminiscent of The Stars My Destination). 

Burlew’s existence outside of the economic system of the Bank reminded me of the hero of Roger Zelazny’s My Name Is Legion.

The style was somewhat reminiscent of Alan Dean Foster’s The Man Who Used the Universe (another tale of obsession).

Yet the novel was enjoyable beyond just reminding me of some of my favorite books.

The book has surprising erudition, much welcome humor, colorful characters. Besides the obese, rather grotesque Burlew and his poetry, there were the monstrous appetites of Lady Dawnfair and her Board colleagues. There’s suspense and satire.

Yet there was also some serious thought on political matters, particularly the novel’s end when Lady Dawnfair predicts Burlew’s future corruption and makes the pointed observation that Burlew is directly responsible for millions of deaths.

The novel has an uncomfortable barb at the end: Burlew is seen as being guilty of some of the same crimes he accuses the Board of. The Board and Bank is partly exonerated for building the Blossom to save man — and themselves (also the reason for some of their repressive measures). Burlew weakly states that he was mistaken.

Yet his actions do overthrow the Board and bring freedom. The Bank is seen as a tool of corruption — but not its reason — and a tool of freedom and prosperity.

In short, Poyer brings a tale of political caution (the old question as to when and to what extent violent revolution is justified) and subtlety not simplicity.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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