cover image War Dogs

War Dogs

Greg Bear. Orbit, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-07283-0

Stuffed with adrenaline-pumping action and mystifying ambiguity, Bear’s series launch is a tempest of rousing SF adventure with a dash of Peckinpah. On a near-future Earth, the alien Gurus have shared technological advances in exchange for military aid in combating the Antags, who have pursued them as far as Mars. Sgt. Michael Venn and his squad of high-tech Skyrines are sent in on a vaguely defined, shoddily planned mission, which has them dodging poison darts and falling comets until they are stranded, wounded, and running out of air. Rescued by a splendidly terse settler, they seek cover in what at first appears to be an abandoned mining operation, but soon the labyrinth, called the Drifter, emerges as the motive to the conflict itself. Eerily and often gloriously explored but scarcely explained, the Drifter is a bonanza of seemingly unlimited resources that both the Gurus and the Antags are inexplicably seeking to destroy. A psychedelic mind-meld with the structure itself adds a layer of complex mystery, but a dead-stop ending leaves Venn and Bear’s readers to impatiently await word of what it was all about. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Oct.)