cover image Heads


Greg Bear. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (125pp) ISBN 978-0-312-06367-2

Hard-science-fiction master Bear's ( Queen of Angels ) gem of a novella shines with provocative scientific speculation, well-drawn characters and powerful prose. Mickey Sandoval is a minor administrator in his family's moon-based corporation, supervising accounts on his brother-in-law William's project--an attempt to reach absolute zero, 0 on the Kelvin scale. His mostly routine job becomes rapidly complicated when his sister Rho, William's wife, brings a load of 410 cryogenically frozen heads back with her from earth. Mickey finds her interest in tapping the memories of the long-dead bizarre yet harmless, but suddenly the other industrial families on the moon grow hostile to the project, led by Council President Fiona Task-Felder, a member of the cult of Logology (which bears an unmistakable resemblance to a certain contemporary pseudo-religious movement). Mickey is plunged into high-level political conflicts he cannot handle, stumbling from error to error before Rho's examination of the heads unveils a monumental secret--and explains the Logologists' stake in her project. Readers hungry for the intellectual thrills of traditional science fiction with the literary merits of the best of the genre need look no further. (Sept.)