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Deepdrive
     

Deepdrive

by Alexander Jablokov
 

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The twenty-first-century solar system is a smaller, more crowded place. Eleven extraterrestrial races have settled the planets and moons, sometimes interacting with human beings, sometimes ignoring them altogether in pursuit of their own enigmatic ends. On Venus, the massive Bgarth tunnel tirelesly beneath the soil, transforming the planet in strange and

Overview

The twenty-first-century solar system is a smaller, more crowded place. Eleven extraterrestrial races have settled the planets and moons, sometimes interacting with human beings, sometimes ignoring them altogether in pursuit of their own enigmatic ends. On Venus, the massive Bgarth tunnel tirelesly beneath the soil, transforming the planet in strange and unpredictable ways. On Mercury, insectoid Gunners fire their isotopic cannon into the heart of the Sun for reasons no one can fathom. And on Earth, human clans struggle to possess the eggs of the Ulanyi, whose powerful placental minds confer social and political prominence.

The alien races reached human space with faster-than-light drives -- deepdrives -- designed to self-destruct after use, taking the secret of their construction with them. Without deepdrives of their own, humans have no way to cross the vast, interstellar gulf separating them from galactic civilization, no way to compete as equals in the greatest game of all. But then a renegade Vronnan, Ripi-Arana-Hoc, crashes on Venus and is taken into "protective custody." Ripi is the only Vronnan ever to enter the solar system. There is no telling what he knows -- perhaps even the elusive secret of the deepdrive. But Ripi isn't talking.

Now a ragtag group of mercenaries, thrown together by chance and failure, determines to break Ripi out and learn his secrets for themselves. There is Soph, embittered by a shattered marriage and the tragic death of her son. Elward, the muscle of the outfit, who has a thing for pain...his own. Tiber, a space pirate with a checkered past. And Soph's mysterious ex-husband, Lightfoot, whose motives are as opaque as those of any alien.

But in a search for the deceptive, nothing is as it seems, no one exactly who -- or what -- they appear to be. There are no easy answers, only layer upon layer of secrets and lies. And as events set in motion long ago and far away by Ripi begin to ripple into human space, it is no longer clear who are the hunters, who the hunted.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the 21st century, our solar system has been radically transformed by the presence of 11 different alien races. Some have come to colonize, others to trade and still others for reasons too inscrutable for humans to understand. The Bgarth, intelligent, wormlike beings larger than supertankers, tunnel beneath the soil of a terraformed Venus. A race known only as the Gunners has set up shop on Mercury and fires an enormous isotopic cannon at the Sun, possibly for religious reasons. A gigantic commensal being that calls itself Doc Kraken rents itself out as a tourist attraction in order to finance its thousand-year trip around the galaxy. Human beings, however, lacking a deepdrive, the only means of achieving faster-than-light travel, have remained second-class citizens, locked in their solar system and unable to compete on a galactic scale. Now, aging human mercenary Sophonisba Trost has been hired to help break a renegade alien named Ripi out of protective custody on Venus. Ripi may know the whereabouts of a deepdrive, or at least that's what Soph has been told. Of course, Soph's employers haven't given her the whole story. Jablokov (River of Dust) has a talent for creating truly strange aliens, creatures who are much more than just oddly dressed humans with bumpy foreheads. His multispecies future is complex, at times perhaps too much so, as his plot can be hard to follow. Overall, however, this is a sound example of latter-day space opera with some nicely developed characters and just a touch of noir atmospherics. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In the 21st century, aliens have colonized the planets and moons of Earth's solar system, using a secret "deepdrive" technology to cross the depths of space. A band of mercenaries undertakes a desperate mission to rescue a fugitive alien who might be willing to trade his knowledge of the deepdrive for his freedom, thus becoming part of a complex web of intrigue and revenge that echoes across the worlds. The author of River of Dust (Morrow, 1996) presents a dark, dysfunctional universe in which humans and aliens alike suffer from wrong choices and broken dreams. Fans of high-tech sf and gritty sf noir should enjoy this brooding tale of deceit among the stars. For large collections.
Kirkus Reviews
In Jablokov's ("Nimbus", 1993, etc.) far-future, numerous alien species with their starspanning "deepdrives" are active in the solar system; humankind, lacking any deepdrive of its own, schemes desperately to acquire one. On Earth, various groups vie for possession of powerful Ulyani placental minds; on Mercury, insect-like Gunners launch bargeloads of radioactive materials into the sun in a vain attempt to contact their missing mothership; on Venus, the only Vronnan to enter human space, the criminal outcast Ripi, has taken refuge in a vast well excavated by the planet-chewing Bgarth. Also lurking in the well are Tiber, the sole survivor of an expedition sent to capture Ripi and force him to reveal the secret of the deepdrive, and Bgarth-imitating human Guts, while on the surface, Enforcement and Joy (the cops) are dug in to do combat against raiders. Another attempt to grab Ripi will be mounted by a group led by Soph Trost and her intelligent, self-mobile, armed-to-the-zipper-teeth luggage. Ripi, a terrier-sized male (Vronnan females are huge) and former high-ranking Clan officer, rejected his fate (his body would have been destroyed as his memories, both personal and racial, were distributed among his offspring) and fled. But now his daughter Sukh, denied status because of her memorylessness, intends to hunt him down. Soph and her associates, however, don't know that Tiber is Sukh's collaborator: soon enough they'll find they've embarked on a journey where nothing is what it appears, and everybody has their own agenda. Astonishing, hypercomplicated, semi-surreal, with a hatful of ingeniously realized aliens shimmering beneath a delightfully sustained aura of black-comicparanoia.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380797158
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
4.17(w) x 6.91(h) x 0.92(d)

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