cover image Mercycle


Piers Anthony. Ace Books, $5.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-441-52562-1

It is difficult to understand how so slight a book can make for such tedious reading. The prolific Anthony's ( Virtual Mode ) latest novel is about a group of humans bicycling along the ocean floor. Anthony does try to provide a framework for the idea--this novel is ostensibly about a benevolent alien race seeking to save the Earth, along with untold numbers of ``alternate worlds,'' from a fatal collision with a meteor. But Anthony was clearly so enamored with his concept of a waterlogged Le Mans that virtually the entire novel takes place underwater, while the rest of the plot is left high and dry. Anthony slips in some tension, which revolves not around the Earth's imminent demise, but around the question of whether Don, one of the bikers, will find himself sexually attracted to another biker, Melanie, who is hairless. There is also a mildly lewd encounter with a mermaid. The book is careless, too--at one point, one of the characters describes an event that happened to him as having happened to someone else. (Aug.)