cover image FORGE OF HEAVEN


C. J. Cherryh, . . Eos, $24.95 (405pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97903-5

In Cherryh's suspenseful sequel to Hammerfall (2001), Marak's World has been embargoed for a millennium due to the illicit nanotechnology it harbors, yet Marak Trin Tain himself, rendered nearly immortal by that technology, lives on. Marak is focused on rebuilding his planet's biosphere, which was nearly destroyed when the enigmatic alien ondat bombarded it some hundreds of years earlier, wiping out virtually all life not preserved in deep shelters. Meanwhile, in orbit around Marak's World, Concord Station has kept uneasy watch on the reawakening planet for centuries. The station is ruled over jointly but uncomfortably by two human cultures: one centered on Earth and strongly opposed to all forms of genetic manipulation; the other, the Outsider worlds, more willing to accept experimentation. Among the many nicely drawn characters is Procyon Stafford, a Concord technician charged with the important duty of communicating with Marak and recording everything he does. Trouble comes looking for Procyon in the form of Andreas Gide, an overbearing official from Earth who's convinced that someone is trying to use Procyon to transport illicit nanotechnology from the proscribed planet to Concord Station and beyond. Given the elaborate backstory and complex galactic milieu, readers would be well advised to start with Hammerfall . Agent, Matt Bialer. (June 4)

FYI: Cherryh has won four Hugo Awards, three for best novel.