cover image Berserker Kill

Berserker Kill

Fred Saberhagen. Tor Books, $24.95 (445pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85266-5

Saberhagen's Berserker series chronicles the ongoing conflict between space-faring humanity and the doomsday war machines of the title, programmed to exterminate all life. Emerging from the depths of the Mavronari Nebula, a berserker ship takes human prisoners, steals a research station orbiting the nearby planetoid Imatra--which carries a billion stored human zygotes intended for a colonization effort--and heads back to its Mavronari hideout, leaving Imatrans mystified. Premier Dirac Sardou, believing his newlywed wife may still be aboard the station, assembles a makeshift force and pursues, never to be heard from again. Three centuries later, a new berserker attack demolishes Imatra; another human expedition gives chase, and what they find in the Mavronari dust cloud is stranger than anything they expected. Saberhagen breathes life into the often-arid soil of future-war SF with intriguing characters, neat plot twists, rousing action and no trace of the gung-ho macho posturing that marks much military science fiction. This smart, fast-moving story is edge-of-the-seat reading. (Sept.)