cover image Hellburner


C. J. Cherryh. Warner Books, $21.95 (343pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51617-4

SF veteran Cherryh's view of the future is unrelentingly cynical, and her protagonists are often ordinary people caught between corrupt corporations and self-serving politicians. In this sequel to Heavy Time , the heroes (and antiheroes) manage a few small victories, but the larger battle continues. All the major characters who survived Heavy Time are back, taking part in a top-secret test pilot program for the military. When Paul Dekker, probably the most trouble-prone character in SF, is seriously injured in a suspicious accident, his surly former partner Ben Pollard is called in as next of kin. While Ben investigates, rival military factions fight for control of the program, with the pilots caught in the middle. Cherryh, who evokes more tension and danger in one verbal confrontation than most writers can manage in a dozen space battles, maintains a fast pace throughout. Her abundant use of technoslang makes her prose style rather heavy going, but this excellent novel is well worth the effort. Author tour. (Sept.)