cover image Furious Gulf

Furious Gulf

Gregory Benford. Spectra Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09661-3

This fifth installment (after Tides of Light ) in Benford's ``Galactic Center'' series, set thousands of years in the future, finds the remaining humans from the planet Snowglade fleeing the genocidal Mechs in the spaceship Argo . As the vessel speeds toward the Galactic Center, the refugees verge on mutiny as food becomes scarce, Mechs close in and Captain Killeen grows ever more determined to discover what lies at the Core. Even Killeen's adolescent son, Toby, begins to question his father's fitness for command, particularly when he discovers that his nervous system has been used as a repository for the skills and personality of the captain's slain lover. Meanwhile, unknown to the Argo crew and passengers, bodiless, perhaps egoless, intelligences muse none-too-benignly on the action at hand and whether they should destroy the shipbound humans as part of their ``ancient task'' of wiping out humanity. If the first half of the narrative is a chase, the second half is a discovery: an exploration of the universe that lies within the human heart, as well as a study of nonhuman beings and of the artifacts of space and time that Benford's fevered imagination has strewn through eons of human history. The author's fans won't be disappointed with this tautly plotted entry in the series, which by now has eclipsed even Asimov's Foundation saga in ambition, and which still has one more book to go. (July)