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Maelstrom by Peter Watts

02/03/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Maelstrom in the USA - or Buy Maelstrom in the UK

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pub: TOR/Forge. 378 page enlarged paperback. Price: $14.95 (US), $16.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2053-7.

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'Starfish' where it showed dysfunctional people living deep underwater in the Pacific tending power plants. The sequel, 'Maelstrom', ignores all of that because there has been a major world catastrophe when a nuke blows a deep sea vent resulting in a total upheaval.

Leni Clarke and Ken Lubin appear to be the only surviving cyborg rifters. Leni also becomes a wanted person as her travels across the world indicate that she's a plague carrier and Lubin has been assigned to find and kill her. With a lot of the world's technology critical and such, things are not easy for either of them.

Having only read the previous book last month, I was already up to speed for reading 'Maelstrom'. Saying that, other than a few characters, much of the development there was chucked out the window. Although I appreciate writers don't necessarily want to repeat themselves in a sequel, to totally chuck most of it out of the window doesn't make much sense neither.

Author Peter Watts also tends not to re-enforce the reasons for anything in this book. Towards the end, I was beginning to wonder just why everyone was after Leni Clarke but that might have been a hidden point. Then again, he also did little to re-enforce just how devastated the world had become after the blast.

A food shortage, sporadic food supplies dished out and territorial barriers that Clarke easily got around isn't enough to re-enforce the image of a world in trouble. In fact, without the help of the back cover you would have thought the catastrophe was nature rather than man-made. I would have thought a nuke flash would have wiped the chips in the rifters' cyborg systems but maybe its just me seeing the bigger picture here.

This isn't to say that 'Maelstrom' doesn't have some merits and there are specific revelations that would act as spoilers if I told them about you here suffice to say it wasn't only bodies that were played with when they became cyborgs. No doubt further revelations will be in the volumes to come.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 39 votes in the sci-fi charts

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