Wheelers

Ian Stewart, Author, Jack Cohen, Joint Author Aspect $24.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-446-52560-2
Though Stewart, a mathematician, and Cohen, a reproductive biologist, have each written popular science books (they coauthored The Collapse of Chaos), this is the first SF novel either has attempted, with generally positive results. In the 23rd century, after a period of antitechnological sentiment on Earth, a small sect of Tibetan Buddhists gains a singular foothold in space, colonizing the moon and building a high-tech habitat and ore-processing facility called Cuckoo's Nest in the midst of the asteroid belt. Interplanetary travel and commerce thrive for those willing to take the risk, like discredited archeologist Prudence Odingo. No one believes her claim of recovering 100,000-year-old wheeled artifacts from the ice of Jupiter's moon Callisto--until one of the ""wheelers"" comes to ""life."" While the official research team is stymied by traditional scientific approaches, Odingo and her multitalented companions open communications with the intelligent, blimplike aliens they discover in great cities floating in Jupiter's dense atmosphere. Human contact leads to possibly catastrophic consequences for Earth. Although their characters and world-building lack believability, the authors wield scientific speculation with cheerful abandon, providing some real old-fashioned sense of wonder. Fans of hard SF authors Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle will get a kick out of Stewart and Cohen's SF debut. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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