cover image Arthur C. Clarke's Richter Ten

Arthur C. Clarke's Richter Ten

Arthur Charles Clarke. Spectra Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09708-5

Two formidable SF talents converge splendidly in this disaster thriller, which offers sleek action-adventure writing, world-class tumult and a coherent near-future based on sound yet innovative social and scientific speculation. Thirty years ago, as a child, Lewis Crane was scarred physically and mentally by the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994. Now he spends his days tracking earthquakes to minimize their damage. He also harbors a secret hope that he can, through a daring plan to fuse the earth's plates by exploding nuclear devices along their fault lines, stop the earthquake menace forever. Lewis is aided and stymied in these actions--and in his attempts to warn of the monster quake implied in the book's title--by a gallery of realistic characters and well-developed political factions, including the suppressed but still potent Nation of Islam, a powerful women's bloc and the Chinese business interests that now really run America. The plot permutations are as rich as the premise and settings, involving maturing characters, shifting allegiances, betrayals, open conflict and hidden agendas. Clarke's trademark technological mysticism and McQuay's tight plotting (as evidenced in his SF detective novels) make for a moving, convincing and engrossing yarn. (Feb.)