cover image Deception Well

Deception Well

Linda Nagata. Spectra Books, $5.99 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-553-57629-0

Fans of hard SF will find a rich and complex world in this third novel by Locus Award-winning author Nagata (The Bohr Maker). Charismatic prophet Jupiter Apolinario leads his army of fanatic followers to the world of Deception Well in the hope of finding some spiritual and physical form of communal ecstasy. He fails, leaving his son, Lot, to be raised in that world's only habitable environment, the sky city of Silk. Years later, as an adolescent, Lot leads a rebellion of youths against the city's elders. What makes Lot so powerful is his natural ability, his inbred political acumen and the nano-technology that causes Lot's body to exude psychoactive enzymes that can transform anyone into his willing and loving supplicant. Nagata skewers organized religion, the democratic process and youth culture in scenes where the senseless crowd gives in to its chemically induced love for the young hero. While Lot's quest to be reunited with his father ultimately lacks any dramatic payoff, readers who are comfortable juggling terms such as ""Dyson spheres"" will also be satisfied by the action-packed battle between generations. Predictably, the outcome leads to grudging mutual understanding as well as a more intelligent and reverential attitude toward the planet itself. (Feb.)