Kevin J. Anderson, . . Onyx, $6.99 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-451-40943-0

Anderson's sizzling sci-fi thriller resurrects the technology of miniaturization introduced in the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage. This time, however, the body through which shrunken crew members maneuver is alien rather than human. When Russian MiG fighters shoot down an unidentified flying object, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasili Garamov decides to ship the surviving pod to a group of scientists secluded in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Garamov is a silent partner in Project Proteus, a joint U.S.-Russian operation dedicated to the process of miniaturization, and this new specimen could be just what the organization needs to prove the technology to the rest of the world. At project headquarters, a witty and intelligently portrayed cast of characters oversees and participates in the miniaturization process that leaves an entire vessel and its crew smaller than a human cell and ready to explore the gray-skinned alien lying dormant inside the pod. In a startling and, frankly, far-fetched turn of events, the explorers discover information about the alien that jeopardizes the expedition and the future of humanity. Anderson (The Gorn Crisis, etc.) writes with humor, sensitivity and clarity. Casual sci-fi fans as well as newcomers to the genre will enjoy this well-paced, energetic narrative. (May 8)