cover image Oracle


Mike Resnick. Ace Books, $4.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-441-58694-3

This sequel to Soothsayer concerns attempts by the interplanetary empire Democracy to retrieve the Oracle, a young woman who not only can see into several possible futures but can influence events so that the future she desires will come to pass. She is located on Alpha Crepello III, and it is believed that her influence has kept that planet of aliens out of the Democracy. The Democracy hires an old man with a shady past known as ``the Iceman'' to pursue the young woman; he in turn hires ``the Whistler,'' a highly skilled assassin. But then the Democracy leaders decide to have the Oracle killed rather than retrieved--so they send in ``the Injun,'' which results in a race among the hired hands to reach the Oracle first. There's just enough action to keep the pages turning, but only just. The preponderance of people who use silly nicknames--including the Democracy agent running this operation, known only as ``32''--gets tiresome, and the anticlimactic ending, which brings the Oracle, the Whistler, the Iceman and the Injun all together, happens much too quickly after nearly 250 pages of buildup. (Oct.)