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Behemoth: B-Max Hardcover – July 1, 2004

4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the βehemoth Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Canadian author Watts's third but not final installment in the hard SF trilogy (see Forecast below) that began with Starfish (1999) and Maelstrom (2001), the surviving corporate elite from the earlier books and "rifters" (cyborgs created and enslaved to explore the ocean depths for corporations) hide beneath the North Atlantic while surface civilization crumbles. One of the novel's most fascinating aspects is its extremely inhospitable setting, under 300 atmospheres pressure at the ocean's sunless floor. Readers will also find themselves unwillingly gripped by the simultaneously flawed and ferocious characters, shaped by a social situation bleaker than anything outside John Shirley's early novels. They know they need to cooperate, so they are trying grudgingly to overcome their anger and hatred, though they've discovered that one way to deny personal guilt is to pursue revenge. They're uncomfortably believable, like us at our least generous moments. Finally, the writing is compelling, jittery, full of dark irony. But readers will need to pick up the earlier books to really appreciate this one.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Several years have passed since Lenie Clark unleashed the fury of Behemoth on the world. Rifters and corpses (i.e., corporate executives) live in the depths of the Atlantic, sustaining a fragile trust that is broken when an apparently new strain of Behemoth that can survive in saltwater deeps (theoretically, an impossibility) kills a rifter unfortunate enough to fall victim to a particularly foul-tempered deep-sea "fish." Unfortunately, those who hold grudges, especially rifter Grace Nolan, see conspiracy everywhere and in the name of self-defense go after the corpses. Lenie, though rapidly losing what little authority she had, does her best to prevent escalation into total disaster. The evidence, however, indicates a certain validity in Grace's claims; Behemoth was, at some point, altered. This is a cliff-hanger of the worst sort, leaving almost every end loose because, Watts explains, another volume will conclude the story begun in Starfish (1999) and continued in Maelstrom (2001). Oh well;^B it's fast-paced and dramatic, promising revelations in a satisfactory--one hopes-- conclusion. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765307219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765307217
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before I can review the content of Peter Watts' "Behemoth: B-Max" there are two facts I need to mention. The first is that it represents the third book of a trilogy, and I would strongly recommend one tackle the first two volumes ("Starfish" and "Maelstrom") before reading this one. The second is that "Behemoth" should be one six hundred page book, but because of trends in the publishing industry it's being published as two separate volumes. The author is completely forthright about this fact, and I believe him when he says that this was not his preferred method of publication. Because of this approach, precious little is resolved in this first volume; so if you aren't a fan of cliff hangers, you might want to wait until "Behemoth: Seppuku" is published in late 2004/early 2005 to read this volume.
For those of you who are new to the series, here is a brief synopsis that should tell you whether or not these books are for you. Essentially, the story arc is about evolution: human, animal and electronic. By mixing a blend of biology, computer science and chaos theory, Watts has created a near future Earth where man is simultaneously at the height of his powers and walking the knife's edge of total ecological failure. In an effort to maintain the high standard of Western living mankind has turned to deep sea geothermal power to meet their energy needs. Miles below the ocean, specially engineered humans culled from the dregs of society maintain these power plants. However, what no one could have expected was that they would encounter an organism that would unleash an apocalypse. Part hard science-fiction, part post-apocalyptic, the first two books represent a genuinely original voice in the genre.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If _Maelstrom_ showed how the world ended, in _Behemoth: Book One: B-Max_, the reader gets to see what life is like after it is all over, at least among some of the survivors.

For the most part, the world of the _Starfish_ novels (the _Rifters_ trilogy, though technically the third book had to be split into two books for publishing reasons) has shrunk to a single location for this novel, a community established at the end of _Maelstrom_ (if community is the word one would use), a sometimes-friends, more-often-enemies collection of rifters and corpses located at the bottom of the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The corpses in desperation had established an underwater city that they hoped was going to make them not only safe from Behemoth (though they also had medical fixes to make themselves immune to Behemoth) but also any reprisals by a spastic, presumably dying world that was lashing out at both old foes and those presumed to be responsible for the world-ending plague. The rifters, lead by Lenie Clarke and Ken Lubin, found the corpses, at first with thoughts to exact revenge, but instead gradually were forced to work together by various circumstances, chief among them the facts that they were isolated from the rest of the world and were unsure who outside their underwater domain was left alive (and afraid to go looking thanks to the both incredibly hostile electronic lifeforms called Lenies and also a real fear of reprisals from nations and powers outside of North America).

Much of the action centers on the swirling politics of the Mid Atlantic Ridge community, largely from the point of view of the rifters, though there was a thread on the spiraling descent into completely amoral evil of the enormously powerful Achilles Desjardins.
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Format: Hardcover
Five years have passed since a vengeful cyborg Lenie Clarke released Behemoth on the world destroying everything in it path as the microbe is eating up matter. Digital monsters add to the pandemic devastation using Clarke as a rallying cry to devastate survivors through what is left of the Internet. Meltdown Madonna cults dedicated to Clarke pledge mass suicide as they rule alongside deadly war lords on the surface.

However, on the ocean floor, Lenie Clarke has learned the truth that her grudge was built on a false premise. As the altered rifters and the technoindustrial corporate executives hide in fear in Atlantis on the ocean floor of the Midatlantic Ridge, the grim reaper comes for them. Only Lenie Clarke can save the few, but first she must face the consequences of what she wrought for she knows she can never achieve salvation as she can not wash the blood from her hands even with water everywhere.

As with STARFISH and MAELSTROM, BEHEMOTH: B-MAX is an ultra dark and gritty action-packed thriller yet the tale as with the first two books is character driven especially by Lenie. The story line moves forward at a current faster than most science fiction novels, but contains irony throughout as Lenie learns the truth and like Lady Macbeth cannot simply wash the blood from her hands. Though B-Max is book one of a two book conclusion , this is a well written gripping entry, but fans of post apocalypse thrillers would be better served by waiting a few months for the release of the climatic novel and then read all four books in succession.

Harriet Klausner
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