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Nebula and Hugo-winner Kress (Dogs) presents a fascinating mystery in classic SF style. The alien Atoners come to Earth with a startling message: some 10,000 years ago, they committed a crime against humanity, kidnapping human beings and establishing colonies on 14 other planets. Now they are asking for 21 human Witnesses to travel to those distant worlds and uncover the nature of their crime. Cam, Lucca and Soledad head to the double planets of Kular A and Kular B, worlds where life is cheap but may not end at the moment of death. The knowledge that they bring back changes civilization dramatically. Though the novel is somewhat marred by an over-hasty conclusion that leaves a number of plot threads dangling, Kress's philosophical explorations will keep readers hooked and thoughtful. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.