cover image Griffin's Egg

Griffin's Egg

Michael Swanwick. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (101pp) ISBN 978-0-312-06989-6

Swanwick's ( Gravity's Angels ) latest combines many elements common to his previous work: a solid hard-science fiction setting, an interest in the workings of interpersonal relationships, and speculation about the potentials of the mind and the nature of personality. Gunther Weil is an underachieving lunar laborer, content in his routine job and the occasional petty expression of insubordination. But when an unexpected solar flare catches him exposed on the moon's surface and his ingenuity alone saves him from death, Gunther becomes a sort of celebrity. Later, when a limited nuclear war breaks out on earth, Gunther finds himself in an even more prominent position. A terrorist has released an engineered virus into the moonbase, rendering all those within it insane, and Gunther is one of the few lucky enough to have been outside at the time. As the sane survivors use and sometimes abuse the highly suggestible insane, Gunther and a few others search for a cure. But will that cure return the sufferers to themselves or leave them irrevocably changed? Swanwick weaves the story with characteristic verve and style, and though his exploration of the issues raised by the psychological viruses falls short of its potential, this is an entertaining and provocative novella. (Jan.)