cover image Fractal Mode

Fractal Mode

Piers Anthony. Putnam Publishing Group, $18.95 (302pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13649-8

In the world created by the veteran SF author for his Mode series, of which this is the second volume, five people are needed as anchor points to define a stable skew path across parallel universes. When Colone, Darius, Sequiro and Provos are cast adrift by the loss of their fifth, Nona hears their calls and becomes their new anchor, bringing them into her universe. Now they must help Nona fulfill the prophecy that says she will overthrow her world's rulers--``despots''--by switching control of the magic (which is the basis of their power) from men-only to women-only. If they fail, the despots will block their exit point. Anthony displays his usual fondness for mathematical games (in this case the fractal Mandelbrot set) and utter abhorrence of anyone who hurts a child, weaving these concerns into the narrative without detracting from the plot's excitement, the continuing development of the original four characters, and the introduction of Nona and her intriguing universe. Only the villains fail to come to life in an otherwise well-written tale. ( Jan. )