The Moonpool

The Moonpool

4.6 121
by P. T. Deutermann, Mel Foster

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I remembered it from high school chemistry, one of those experiments where we made hydrogen. It was more of an acidic sensation on the palate than a real smell, but I recognized it. The pile of spent fuel at the bottom was beginning to outgas. Next would come the fire to end all fires.…

A private detective working in Wilmington, North Carolina, is found


I remembered it from high school chemistry, one of those experiments where we made hydrogen. It was more of an acidic sensation on the palate than a real smell, but I recognized it. The pile of spent fuel at the bottom was beginning to outgas. Next would come the fire to end all fires.…

A private detective working in Wilmington, North Carolina, is found dead in a gas-station restroom, apparently poisoned. But when her body sets off radiation alarms in the pathologist’s office, suspicion falls on the nearby Helios nuclear power plant, a heavily guarded facility with supposedly fail-safe procedures.

As the FBI, local police, and the power plant’s own security team investigate, ex-cop Cam Richter, head of the agency that employed the dead woman, begins his own inquiries. What was his detective investigating? And how could one person be poisoned by radiation without others being exposed?

Cam soon finds himself up against powerful forces that will stop at nothing to keep the plant’s problems secret. The most vulnerable part of Helios is its “moonpool”—the radioactive storage pond that cools spent but volatile reactor fuel and must be kept completely full. Racing against time, Cam discovers an inside threat, a plan to use the plant’s own systems to begin an unstoppable, disastrous sequence of events.

Editorial Reviews

Rolling Stone
One of cyberpunk's most inventive works.
San Diego Union-Tribune
A genius. . .A Cult hero among discriminating cyberpunkers.
Washington Post Book World
Delightfully irreverant. . . This is science fiction as it should be.
From the Publisher
“A top-notch writer.”—Nelson DeMille

“EXCITING…CHILLING.”—Publishers Weekly

“Deutermann writes a first-class page turner.”—Atlanta Journal Constitution

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Cam Richter Series, #3
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.37(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Cobb Anderson would have held out longer, but you don't see dolphins every day. There were twenty of them, fifty, rolling in the little gray waves, wicketting up out of the water. It was good to see them. Cobb took it for a sign and went out for his evening sherry an hour early.

The screen door slapped shut behind him and he stood uncertainly for a moment, dazed by the late afternoon sun. Annie Cushing watched him from her window in the cottage next door. Beatles music drifted out past her.

"You forgot your hat," she advised. He was still a good-looking man, barrel-chested and bearded like Santa Claus. She wouldn't have minded getting it on with him, if he weren't so . . .

"Look at the dolphins, Annie. I don't need a hat. Look how happy they are. I don't need a hat and I don't need a wife." He started toward the asphalt road, walking stiffly across the crushed white shells.

Annie went back to brushing her hair. She wore it white and long, and she kept it thick with hormone spray. She was sixty and not too brittle to hug. She wondered idly if Cobb would take her to the Golden Prom next Friday.

The long last chord of "Day in the Life" hung in the air. Annie couldn't have said which song she had just heard--after fifty years her responses to the music were all but extinguished--but she walked across the room to turn the stack of records over. If only something would happen, she thought for the thousandth time. I get so tired of being me.

At the Superette, Cobb selected a chilled quart of cheap sherry and a damp paper bag of boiled peanuts. And he wanted something to look at.

The Superette magazine selection was nothingcompared to what you could get over in Cocoa. Cobb settled finally for a love-ad newspaper called Kiss and Ten. It-- was always good and weird . . . most of the advertisers were seventy-year-old hippies like himself. He folded the first-page picture under so that only the headline showed. PLEASE PHEEZE ME.

Funny how long you can laugh at the same jokes, Cobb thought, waiting to pay. Sex seemed odder all the time. He noticed the man in front of him, wearing a light-blue hat blocked from plastic mesh.

If Cobb concentrated on the hat he saw an irregular blue cylinder. But if he let himself look through the holes in the mesh he could see the meek curve of the bald head underneath. Skinny neck and a light-bulb head, clawing in his change. A friend.

"Hey, Farker.''

Farker finished rounding up his nickels, then turned his body around. He spotted the bottle.

"Happy Hour came early today." A note of remonstrance. Farker worried about Cobb.

"It's Friday. Pheeze me tight." Cobb handed Farker the paper.

"Seven eighty-five," the cashier said to Cobb. Her white hair was curled and hennaed. She had a deep tan. Her flesh had a pleasingly used and oily look to it.

Cobb was surprised. He'd already counted money into his hand. "I make it six fifty." Numbers began sliding around in his head.

"I meant my box number," the cashier said with a toss of her head. "In the Kiss and Tell." She smiled coyly and took Cobb's money. She was proud of her ad this month. She'd gone to a studio for the picture.

Farker handed the paper back to Cobb outside. "I can't look at this, Cobb. I'm still a happily married man, God help me."

.You want a peanut?.

.Thanks.. Farker extracted a soggy shell from the little bag. There was no way his spotted and trembling old hands could have peeled the nut, so he popped it whole into his mouth. After a minute he spit the hull out.

They walked towards the beach, eating pasty peanuts. They wore no shirts, only shorts and sandals. The after noon sun beat pleasantly on their backs. A silent Mr. Frostee truck cruised past.

Cobb cracked the screw-top on his dark-brown bottle and took a tentative first sip. He wished he could remember the box number the cashier had just told him. Numbers wouldn't stay still for him anymore. It was hard to believe he'd ever been a cybernetician. His memory ranged back to his first robots and how they'd learned to bop . . .

"Food drop's late again," Farker was saying. "And I hear there's a new murder cult up in Daytona. They're called the Little Kidders." He wondered if Cobb could hear him. Cobb was just standing there with empty colorless eyes, a yellow stain of sherry on the dense white hair around his lips.

"Food drop," Cobb said, suddenly coming back. He had a way of re-entering a conversation by confidently booming out the last phrase which had registered. "I've still got a good supply."

"But be sure to eat some of the new food when it comes," Farker cautioned. "For the vaccines. I'll tell Annie to remind you."

"Why is everybody so interested in staying alive? I left my wife and came down here to drink and die in peace. She can't wait for me to kick off. So why . . ." Cobb's voice caught. The fact of the matter was that he was terrified of death. He took a quick, medicinal slug of sherry.

"If you were peaceful, you wouldn't drink so much," Farker said mildly. "Drinking is the sign of an unresolved conflict."

"No kidding,'' Cobb said heavily. In the golden warmth of the sun, the sherry had taken quick effect. "Here's an unresolved conflict for you.'' He ran a fingernail down the vertical white scar on his furry chest. "I don't have the money for another second-hand heart. In a year or two this cheapie's going to poop out on me."

Farker grimaced. "So? Use your two years."

Cobb ran his finger back up the scar, as if zipping it up. "I've seen what it's like, Farker. I've had a taste of it. It's the worst thing there is." He shuddered at the dark memory . . . teeth, ragged clouds . . . and fell silent.

Farker glanced at his watch. Time to get going or Cynthia would . . .

"You know what Jimi Hendrix said?" Cobb asked. Recalling the quote brought the old resonance back into his voice. "When it's my time to die, I'm going to be the one doing it. So as long as I'm alive, you let me live my way."

Farker shook his head. "Face it, Cobb, if you drank less you'd get a lot more out of life." He raised his hand to cut off his friend's reply. "But I've got to get home. Bye bye."


Cobb walked to the end of the asphalt and over a low dune to the edge of the beach. No one was there today, and he sat down under his favorite palm tree.

The breeze had picked up a little. Warmed by the sand, it lapped at Cobb's face, buried under white whiskers. The dolphins were gone.

He sipped sparingly at his sherry and let the memories play. There were only two thoughts to be avoided: death and his abandoned wife Verena. The sherry kept them away.

The sun was going down behind him when he saw the stranger. Barrel-chest, erect posture, strong arms and legs covered with curly hair, a round white beard. Like Santa Claus, or like Ernest Hemingway the year he shot him self.

"Hello, Cobb," the man said. He wore sungoggles and looked amused. His shorts and sportshirt glittered.

"Care for a drink?" Cobb gestured at the half-empty bottle. He wondered who, if anyone, he was talking to.

"No thanks," the stranger said, sitting down. "It doesn't do anything for me."

Cobb stared at the man. Something about him . . .

"You're wondering who I am," the stranger said, smiling. "I'm you.''

"You who?"

"You me." The stranger used Cobb's own tight little smile on him. "I'm a mechanical copy of your body."

The face seemed right and there was even the scar from the heart transplant. The only difference between them was how alert and healthy the copy looked. Call him Cobb Anderson2. Cobb2 didn't drink. Cobb envied him. He hadn't had a completely sober day since he had the operation and left his wife.

"How did you get here?''

The robot waved a hand palm up. Cobb liked the way the gesture looked on someone else. "I can't tell you," the machine said. "You know how most people feel about us."

Cobb chuckled his agreement. He should know. At first the public had been delighted that Cobb's moon robots had evolved into intelligent boppers. That had been before Ralph Numbers had led the 2001 revolt. After the revolt, Cobb had been tried for treason. He focussed back on the present.

"If you're a bopper, then how can you be . . . here?" Cobb waved his hand in a vague circle taking in the hot sand and the setting sun. "It's too hot. All the boppers I know of are based on supercooled circuits. Do you have a refrigeration unit hidden in your stomach?"

Anderson2 made another familiar hand-gesture. "I'm not going to tell you yet, Cobb. Later you'll find out. Just take this . . ." The robot fumbled in its pocket and brought out a wad of bills. ''Twenty-five grand. We want you to get the flight to Disky tomorrow. Ralph Numbers will be your contact up there. He'll meet you at the Anderson room in the museum."

Cobb's heart leapt at the thought of seeing Ralph Numbers again. Ralph, his first and finest model, the one who had set all the others free. But . . . Software. Copyright © by Rudy Rucker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Thomas M. Disch
He knows how to boggle the mind...

Meet the Author

P. T. DEUTERMANN spent twenty-six years in military and government service before retiring to begin his writing career. He is the author of thirteen novels and lives with his wife in North Carolina.

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The Moonpool 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 121 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, i have read several of his books, this is one of the best
Anonymous 7 days ago
Leaf padded in, then sat beside Berrybreeze. "Now we wait?" She asked.
Anonymous 8 days ago
Padded in, waiting for Leaf.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Get out, "Cinderleaf"
Anonymous 9 months ago
"Yes." She mewed. "We should eat before."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beutiful black and gray she cat stepped foward and gracefully flicked her tail. "With this life, i give you wit. Use this life wisley, as you will need it to lead your clan. You will be cunning and wise, and a quick descision maker. And sometimes, those decisions could either put your clan to great risk, or save it from eternal suffering. Be well, be strong,be wise" the she cat pressed her nose against his and sent him a shock, quick as lightning, painful, but full of meaning. She stepped back, and her eyes glinted before dissapearing into the ranks of starclan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Take down yoir advertisement at diq res two NOW! If you do not, I will tell everyone that this place is full with cats who are greedy. So stop and take it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you. I am very honored. I promise to uphold the medicine cat code and all the other stuff med cats do. (Its too long to type) *wakes up and goes to fireclan*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Darklight came in, almost enchanted by the waters of the moonpool. She dared not disturb the other cats and kept her gaze below eye level. All she did was sit and stare at the water, not wanting to call out to StarClan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dawn shall fall and the deputy of thorns shall reign. Darkness will grow stronger and the bat will thrive. Blood shall meet the fire in battle and some of the fire will be extinguished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As the lives washed over her, she felt an intense burning in her soul, but also a soothing sensation. She dipped her head to the StarClan cats, her gaze darkening as AmberStar spoke the prophetic line. Then, she awoke. She got up, trotting off to her clan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yelped and flew away
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is called lightwind and it only allows warriors that fought for their clan or what we call kinships as long as they could
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A loner good with medicine and has frequent visions. Den is at fox shadow res two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The starry, slender she-cat watched silently, couning silently.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I must go now. Know this always. I love you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Med cat and leader of LeafClan at "oak wood". Ps could u make it earlier? I cant get on at 10:00 pm.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She padded in. "I was killed by my mate, Darkpelt. I have come to join."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Toutches his nose to the water and later wakes up stunnef
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nodded and ran out.x
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
* walks in and gazes in awe her green gray speckled eyes taking in every moment* "Hello" she mews quietly then she nuzzles her nose to the glimmering surface and instantly drifts off to sleep " hello does anybody know if my apprentice frostpaw got her name ccan somebody tell her i m deeply sorry that i wasnt there with her to pronounce her ceromony