Robert Reed, Author . Tor $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0860-3

As it sails the galaxy, the Great Ship (introduced in 2000's Marrow ) meets an opponent worthy of its Jupiter-like size in Reed's taut sequel. Pitted against an entity that has sculpted its own dark cloud nebula called the Inkwell, the Ship's human captains and their nonhuman allies engage in a duel of wits and strength that drains gas giants and turns black holes into weapons. Washen, second in command but first in authority, must prepare the Great Ship for the encounter with the Inkwell. Washen's lover, Pamir, sets off in a streakship to confront the nebula's dominant species, the polyponds. Unraveling the dark nebula's secrets requires Washen to uncover some of the Great Ship's mysteries as well. The infinite depths of space are well matched by the all-too-human depths of Reed's characters, who range from near-deity to damaged fosterling, but must all face the problem of resolving conflicts between individual desires and communal needs. Having body-rebuilding immortality genes only gives them that much more time to debate the issue (as well as catching the unwary reader with quick-cut jumps of decades in a sentence). This literary SF novel works at all levels, from the big action sequences and mind-expanding concepts to the quiet, reflective moments. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House. (Apr. 12)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Mass Market Paperbound - 438 pages - 978-0-7653-4764-0
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