Gene Lyons
December 15, 1995 AT 05:00 AM EST

Apparently, the Bible got it wrong. It’s the geeks who’ll inherit the earth—specifically, computer geeks, if you credit the premise of Host (Villard, $24), Peter James’ slick but silly techno-thriller. It’s like this: ”If you could download a human brain into a computer,” thinks Prof. Joe Messenger, ”you could live forever.”

Messenger, a world-class computer nerd (and a hunk, naturally), has named his big project ARCHIVE, for ”Anthropo-Computer Host for Intelligent Virtual Existence.” Messenger is so dedicated to educating his electronic alter ego that ARCHIVE’s cameras monitor every room in his house 24 hours a day. Yes, every room.

So when this world-class babe shows up with a plausible theory about how to accomplish the aforementioned downloading into ARCHIVE, the professor is intrigued. His computer warns him to beware, but he won’t listen. You see, the alluring Juliet Spring is obsessed with ”cryonics”—the notion that bodies can be frozen indefinitely in liquid nitrogen for later ”reanimation.”

Joe’s wife, Karen, a humdrum literary type, thinks it’s all madness. So it’s not long before Joe and Juliet get down to some serious tongue wrestling, prompting some of the most unintentionally ludicrous dialogue this side of Godzilla vs. the Thing: ”You said that Karen doesn’t believe in immortality. That she isn’t having her body frozen, but that you are. Sometime in the future we’ll be together again when we’re both thawed out.”

But (surprise!) things go badly wrong with the experiment. ”Do you have any idea, Joe,” a colleague asks, ”how people would react to the knowledge that you and I used a reanimated female body to house the consciousness of one of our deceased students, who then committed murder?” Oh, I don’t know. Helpless laughter, perhaps? DGene Lyons

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