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.
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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
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