Sunday, April 27, 2008

Starfish-Peter Watts

Peter Watts
Tor, Apr 20 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780765315960

In the near future, the energy crisis has hit geometric proportions that no one anticipated just a few years earlier. Desperate for new clean sources leads to of geothermal sources deep in the ocean in places like Juan de Fuca Rift off the Canadian Northwest Pacific coast. However, it takes a special type of person to become a maintenance worker at the dangerous underwater power plants; employees must be psychotic to ignore their surface lives and agree to surgical alteration to cope with the ocean’s extreme pressure.

The brave (most surface dwellers insist insane) amphibious workers relish the undersea volcanic environs. However, none under and above realize what else resides in the Rift besides the newcomer rifter human species. There lives ancient bacterium has found a host to take them from the ocean depths to the continents. Soon mankind finds itself in a war of the worlds in which human resistance seems nil.

This reprint of a cautionary late 1990s thriller affirms how accurate Peter Watts predicted the energy crisis, but the crux of the tale is the underwater world from real biology and geography to the typical human disregard to the ecosystem. Though no character truly stands out even the deadly bacterium, the end of the world scenario with its anti heroes makes for compelling reading.

Harriet Klausner

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