cover image Ascension Factor

Ascension Factor

Frank Herbert, Dick Ransom. Putnam Publishing Group, $18.95 (381pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13224-7

This final collaboration between the late Herbert (Dune) and Ransom is a worthy sequel to their novel The Lazarus Effect. On the water planet Pandora, the tyrannical Director, a clone named Raja Flattery, is impoverishing the inhabitants to the point of starvation as he builds a new Voidship to orbit the spheres. Popular newscaster Ben Ozette has gone underground to broadcast the true facts about the Voidship project, taking with him Flattery's captive, Crista Galli, a woman raised by the planet's sentient kelp and now considered a god by the populace. Though Crista grew up in complete isolation, the kelp gave her a prodigious memory and other mental powers that she uses to aid the resistance. The thematic richness one associates with Herbert is again present, here centering on mind/body dislocations, from the torture victims driven mad to the bodyless brains in cyborgs, and Crista herself. (February 4)