cover image Alien Influences

Alien Influences

Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Spectra Books, $5.99 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-553-56998-8

The brutal murders of a group of children on the remote Earth colony of Bountiful in the distant future is the catalyzing event in this latest novel by Rusch that questions the definition of humanity. Although the perpetrators are children themselves, they are denounced for having excessive contract with the Dancers, Bountiful's only indigenous life-form, who teach the children to communicate empathically. Of course, the real motive for the murders rests with the colony's executive, who wants the Dancers eradicated, but it takes John, the only surviving member of the ""Dancer Eight,"" nearly a lifetime to uncover the truth and finally find peace. While Rusch's narrative suffers from an excessively serpentine web of intrigue and exposition, her examination of the heights and depths of the human spirit is what engages and ultimately satisfies. (Nov.)