Psi/Net

Billy Dee Williams, Author, Rob MacGregor, Author, Robert MacGregor, Joint Author Tor Books $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-86766-9

Slim but briskly paced, this near-future thriller launches a new and promising collaboration between actor--and debut novelist--Williams (best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in Return of the Jedi) and novelist MacGregor (Prophecy Rock, etc.). Their protagonist is Trent Calloway, a retired African-American Air Force major who is a survivor of a secret project to turn people capable of ""remote-viewing"" (i.e., psychics) into a military asset. Suspicious psychic phenomena make Calloway wonder if a new remote-viewing plan is in the works--and indeed it is. His old project director, Gordon Maxwell, has entered into an alliance with a right-wing former general and his militia followers, and is trying to use remote viewing as a weapon to overthrow the U.S. government. They intend to plant a Russian-built suitcase-nuke in Washington, D.C., and to convince American president David Dustin that he has been contacted by UFOs. Calloway, his ex-wife and several other retired psychics (all bearing psychological scars from the first project) desperately race against time and terrorism to save the country. The story plays out tightly, with high excitement, and the authors do an excellent job not only in generating convincing characters but in making their bizarre scenario appear plausible. It hardly matters which author contributed what to the novel, as it should garner more than enough praise to spread around. (Aug.)