Steel Beach

John Varley, Author Putnam Publishing Group $22.95 (479p) ISBN 978-0-399-13759-4
After nearly a decade's silence, Nebula and Hugo Award winner Varley ( The Ophiuchi Hotline ; Titan ; Millennium ; etc.) makes a triumphant return with this absorbing novel, set in a future where humanity, expelled from the Earth by the alien Invaders, now lives in artificial habitats on the moon, Mars and other planets. Advanced technologies ensure a fairly effortless and secure life--almost any injury or disease is curable; people can change their features or even their gender with an afternoon of painless surgery. But all is not well on Luna. Hildy Johnson, top reporter for a tabloid, has been unaccountably depressed, even suicidal, and he soon learns that he's not alone. Even the Central Computer that maintains Luna's environment has been feeling down. As Hildy and the CC search for a reason to live, Hildy changes gender, quits his/her job and examines religions; the CC takes steps for itself that may lead to moonwide catastrophe. Varley's tight, clean writing, full of wit and good humor, evokes despair, joy, anger and delight. His Luna is packed with wild inventions, intriguing characters and stunning scenery. This long-awaited return is one of the best science fiction novels of the year. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1992
Release date: 07/01/1992
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