Praise for Starfish and Maelstrom:
"I have no hesitation in recommending both books to readers interested in up-to-date science fiction with a seriously paranoid edge."The New York Times
"Watts moves from the relentless pressure of Starfish to the frantic speed of chaos in action, never losing the tight focus on his fascinating characters in this excellent sequel to his debut novel."--Booklist [Starred Review]
"Watts has grown into a powerful hard-SF voice in the space of only two books. . . .With its worst-case-scenario setting and thoroughly compelling characters, Maelstrom delivers on all the promises hard SF has ever thought to make, bundling future science and a suspenseful story into a single thrilling package." -Locus
Praise for ßehemoth: ß-Max:
"One of the novel's most fascinating aspects is its extremely inhospitable setting, under 300 atmospheres pressure at the ocean's sunless floor. Readers will also find themselves unwillingly gripped by the simultaneously flawed and ferocious characters, shaped by a social situation bleaker than anything outside John Shirley's early novels. . . .They're uncomfortably believable, like us at our least generous moments. Finally, the writing is compelling, jittery, full of dark irony."-Publishers Weekly
This bare-bones synopsis cannot convey the complex moral calculus that Watts embodies in his ambitious tale of conscience deferred. Everyone involved in the harrowing denouement is both wounded and culpable. And, very much to the point, even readers may feel complicit when they find themselves sympathizing with characters who have been responsible for as many as a billion deaths.
The New York Times
In Canadian author Watts's intense, beautifully written conclusion to his Rifters trilogy (after 2004's Behemoth: a-Max), Lenie Clarke, the near-psychotic, bio-engineered woman who loosed the deadly organism known as aehemoth on an already environmentally compromised world, resurfaces from the ocean's depths to discover who's behind continuing efforts to destroy all life on Earth. Together with Lubin, a bio-engineered man who's a highly efficient killer, Clarke discovers an America that has been devastated, not just by Behemoth but by attacks from heavily fortified, high-tech enclaves whose rulers will stop at nothing in a futile attempt to contain the out-of-control organism. Worse still, the battle is apparently being led by Achilles Desjardins, a murderous psychopath who has slipped the protective psychological programming that once kept his darker impulses under control. Aided by Taka Ouellette, a guilt-ridden, second-rate physician, Clarke and Lubin strive desperately to unravel the secrets of both Behemoth and Seppuku, its even more dangerous mutation. Like some adrenaline-charged fusion of Clarke's The Deep Range and Gibson's Neuromancer, Watts's trilogy represents a major addition to early 21st-century hard SF. Agent, Donald Maass. (Jan. 5) FYI: As an author's note explains, this is the second half of aehemoth, which was split in two by the publisher against Watts's wishes. The trilogy should be read in order, starting with 1999's Starfish. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Five years after unleashing the doomsday microbe Behemoth on the world and causing death on an apocalyptic scale, cyborg Lenie Clarke attempts to redeem herself by confronting and defeating the runaway microbe. This sequel to Behemoth: B-Max completes the third volume of Watts's hard-science Rifters trilogy (Maelstrom; Starfish). Memorable characters and action-packed scenes of high drama and taut suspense make this a good choice for sf collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Fourth entry in Watts's postapocalyptic "trilogy" begun with Starfish (1999), although the author does warn us: "Stop right there! This is not a complete novel . . . If you haven't read Part 1 (ssehemoth: ss-Max), you should do so before embarking on this book." The advice is sound. Nonreaders of Part 1 will grasp, eventually, that ssehemoth, an archaic non-DNA microorganism from the deep oceans, has invaded the land, devastating the defenseless modern-DNA ecology. In North America, some communities shelter behind elaborate barriers, hoping to keep the organism at bay; outside, healers like Taka Ouellette visit the infected areas, relieving what afflictions they can. Behind the scenes, sadistic, megalomaniac Achilles Desjardins-his conscience was erased by a rogue computer program-orchestrates affairs electronically and biologically to suit his personal depravities. Rifters Lenie Clarke and Ken Lubin, newly arrived from the undersea realm of Atlantis, wander the devastated landscape, trying to make sense of what they see, wondering whether Seppuku, a counter-plague, will actually destroy ssehemoth or make matters even worse. The commendable aspects of this: Watts's thorough research renders the details vivid and telling, and he shows significant signs of developing into a true stylist. The drawbacks: a plot that (even granted that this is only half a book) undulates without a backbone; worse, the basis for what plot there is comes down to sexual torture, whose scenes, presented unsparingly, many readers will find utterly repellent. For the nonce, heed the author's warning. For the future, Watts has to decide whether to write SF or horrific porn: the mix doesn't work.