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Wheelers Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though Stewart, a mathematician, and Cohen, a reproductive biologist, have each written popular science books (they coauthored The Collapse of Chaos), this is the first SF novel either has attempted, with generally positive results. In the 23rd century, after a period of antitechnological sentiment on Earth, a small sect of Tibetan Buddhists gains a singular foothold in space, colonizing the moon and building a high-tech habitat and ore-processing facility called Cuckoo's Nest in the midst of the asteroid belt. Interplanetary travel and commerce thrive for those willing to take the risk, like discredited archeologist Prudence Odingo. No one believes her claim of recovering 100,000-year-old wheeled artifacts from the ice of Jupiter's moon CallistoAuntil one of the "wheelers" comes to "life." While the official research team is stymied by traditional scientific approaches, Odingo and her multitalented companions open communications with the intelligent, blimplike aliens they discover in great cities floating in Jupiter's dense atmosphere. Human contact leads to possibly catastrophic consequences for Earth. Although their characters and world-building lack believability, the authors wield scientific speculation with cheerful abandon, providing some real old-fashioned sense of wonder. Fans of hard SF authors Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle will get a kick out of Stewart and Cohen's SF debut. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It is the twenty-third-century, and Prudence Odingo is a promising assistant archaeologist who deciphers some mysterious inscriptions unearthed within the Sphinx. When Charlie Dunsmore, the dig's team leader, steals the credit for her work, she quits and leaves Earth to explore the moons of Jupiter. There, she makes an even more astounding find: a gear-shaped artifact, which is dubbed a wheeler. When the object comes to life, it leads to the discovery of a civilization living within the Jovian atmosphere. The abilities of these creatures are such that they can change the orbits of their moons in order to redirect an immense comet around their planet and, coincidentally, directly at Earth. A group, including Odingo and Dunsmore, must establish communications with the Jovians and convince them to change the path of the comet before Earth is destroyed. The authors provide a fascinating glimpse into our society and an alien one in this imaginative and well-written story. Highly recommended. Eric Robbins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect; Reprint edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446610089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446610087
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,043,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on November 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In the twenty-third century, archeologist Charlie Dunsmore knows he handled his brilliant assistant and her discovery that the Sphinx was much older than first thought wrong. An irate Prudence accuses him of stealing her success, especially when a frustrated Charlie blithely tosses her contract in her face. Charlie realizes he overreacted and plans to apologize. However, Prudence has left the dig to travel to the moons of Jupiter to confirm her abilities to her mentor and lover.

On Jupiter's eighth moon Callisto, Prudence proves her success in Egypt was no fluke. She uncovers WHEELERS under the ice of the moon. She has no idea who junk-piled them and what their functions were. Prudence immediately returns to Earth to declare her find. Meanwhile, the moons of Jupiter defy gravity and somehow reposition themselves. In turn, the realignment leads to a change on the orbit of a comet that now targets planet earth as part of its orbital projectory. Apparently, sentient beings inhabit the Jupiter planetary system and they are now defending themselves from the destructive comet even if it means destroying Earth. Somehow, the desperate earthlings must communicate with this alien race to save their planet from the comet's destruction.

WHEELERS is an exciting science fiction thriller that brings into focus a future earth and an incredible look at an alien culture. The exciting story line is well written, but contains a bit too many subplots even though each one of these are fun to read. Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen show their abilities to write a futuristic novel especially when describing the residents of the Jupiter planetary system.

Harriet Klausner
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alan Robson on November 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Wheelers is a collaborative novel by two writers better known for their non-fiction. Ian Stewart is a Professor of Mathematics who writes columns for Scientific American and who has published many popular science books. Jack Cohen is a biologist who has also had a long and eminent career as an academic. He's blotted his copy book a lot though - he is a long time SF fan and has been a popular speaker at many a British SF convention. He has been the power behind the SF throne of many a novel, in that he can't resist providing the hard scientific advice that has raised a lot of SF books head and shoulders above the competition. He devised much of the clever biological speculation that made Harry Harrison's Eden novels so memorable, for instance.
Now, with Wheelers these two non-fiction giants have turned their hand to story telling with, it must be admitted, mixed success.
It is the twenty third century. The world is recovering from a technology meltdown caused by a generation of "smart" computers that proved to be too smart for their own good. The world is now quite under populated and the Moon and the asteroids are largely the province of a curious Zen Buddhist offshoot cult who make a very rich living mining them.
Prudence Odingo is an ex-archaeologist and something of a recluse. Her early career was ruined partly by her own headstrong behaviour and partly by the wheelings and dealings of her post-graduate supervisor. She has spent many of the years since then in space. She returns to Earth from an expedition to Callisto where she has excavated wheeled artefacts that seem to be more than 100,000 years old.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elyon on March 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Recently awarded Locus' nod as one of the best first novels of the past year, this entertaining novel is a potpourri of popular and topical themes, drawn from such diverse sources as ecoterrorism and diversity, cloning, Zen Buddhism, Egyptian archeology, Von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods," and the anticipated future cataclysm of a killer comet, recently so thoroughly milked by both the news media and Hollywood. While one might suspect that the authors, both of whom have extensive scientific and academic publishing resumes, have been somewhat calculating as to their inclusion of plot elements, there is little question that they have interwoven these themes into a successful and entertaining novel, written with verve and a great amount of imagination.
Though the introductory chapters start out appearing only tentatively connected, pursuing multiple storylines that at first seem largely unrelated, it is not long before the authors begin to bind their protagonists' tales together, spinning out their coalescing narrative at an ever increasing pace that soon matches the onrush of climatic events that equally propel towards the book's conclusion. Once the reader enters the climacteric phase of the novel, it is difficult to put down, marred slightly only by the final chapters, which become a summary tidying up of events and characters that seem somewhat a let down after all the excitement preceding. Nonetheless, the authors succeed in investing much of their tale with an ever-increasing suspense that is handled deftly, and which largely offsets any flaws found in the final slowdown of events.
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