From Publishers Weekly
In this plodding entry in veteran Saberhagen's Berserker series (Berserker's Planet, etc.), Harry Silver, whose main claims to fame are his oversized weaponry and his love of poetry, has a cargo of parts to sell. Unfortunately, the planet he has just landed on, Hong's World, is being evacuated because its sun is going nova. To make some money, Harry agrees to take two businessmen/smugglers and the sweet if somewhat dimwitted Lily Gunnlod (who's seeking her errant husband) on a trip to the planet Maracanda. That world, the novel's real star, is an "azlaroc-type habitable body" where, due to its proximity to a neutron star and a black hole, the normal laws of the universe don't hold. When Harry's ship is confiscated on arrival, an old associate, Kul Bulaboldo, promises Harry that, in exchange for a little unspecified help, Kul will get Harry's ship back. As they travel across the planet's surface, Harry, Kul and Lily contend with such phenomena as rocks that perambulate, extreme gravities and narcotic soil, when not running afoul of the agents of the Berserker machines, AIs that want to exterminate all living creatures, starting with humanity. Readers will enjoy Harry's acts of derring-do, but the lengthy descriptions of Maracanda's bizarre properties grow tiresome.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Space adventurer Harry Silver returns in this latest entry in Saberhagen's immensely, deservedly popular Berserker saga. A woman charters Silver's ship Witch of Endor
to rescue her husband from a cult on the planet Macaranda. After foiling two attempts to kidnap him, Silver starts to suspect everything and everybody around him, including Bulaboldo, an old friend with large ambitions and few scruples. For instance, Bulaboldo depends on Macaranda's peculiar physics, gravity, and breakdown zones (areas in which modern technology won't work) for the success of his drug-exporting ring. But besides providing Bulaboldo cover, those conditions may become the means by which so-called "goodlife" humans (i.e., Berserker sympathizers) can get a sufficient supply of antimatter to induce a catastrophic nova in the neutron star in the system that includes Macaranda. The good guys win in the end, but only after much suspense and action that grabs and holds even with Saberhagen's understated prose as their vehicle. Moreover, dark notes and surprises spice the moment of victory. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved