Cradle of Splendor

Patricia Anthony, Author
Patricia Anthony, Author Ace Books $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-441-00301-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-441-00426-3
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Like her Cold Allies, which won Locus's Best First Novel award, Anthony's breakneck fifth book is set in a near-future roiling with intrigue and rumors of UFO activity. When the first Brazilian space shot manages to achieve orbit without booster rockets, the world is stunned, then pushed to the brink of cataclysm as the U.S. accuses Brazil of launching nuclear weapons into orbit. The escalating crisis plays out against a background of erupting brutality and sexual depravity, instigated mostly by industrial, political and military spies, and against convincing TV news reports presented in transcript form. In the face of technological achievement that has possibly been bought by selling Brazil's national soul to an extraterrestrial demon, Anthony's sharply realized characters undergo abrupt changes (the women generally take nobler paths than the men). Former CIA agent Dolores Sims and her (somewhat estranged) friend, Brazilian president Ana Maria Bonfim, give until nothing remains of themselves, while young NASA scientist Roger Lintenberg, Japanese industrial spy Hiroshi Sato, Brazilian general Fernando Machado and jaded Brazilian security chief Edson Carvalho take until they relinquish their humanity. Dramatic shifts of scene and point of view enhance the sense of social fragmentation. Anthony adds to her reputation through a briskly involving narrative that offers disturbing glimpses into the black holes of the human heart. (Apr.)
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