cover image MAXIMUM ICE


Kay Kenyon, . . Bantam Spectra, $5.99 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-553-58376-2

Full-bodied characters, palpable environs, layered mystery and heady suspense combine like the many facets of "Ice" in this sparkling SF novel. Fleeing from harmful interstellar radiation back to an Earth that persecuted their ancestors 250 years earlier, the gypsy crew of the spaceship Star Road is in for a shock. Earth's surface, but for a ring around the equator, is covered with crystalline Ice, a fantastic information-storage structure that no one has known how to access or control for centuries. Zoya Kundara, Ship Mother of Star Road, has guided generations of the crew through crises and slept away the years between, and now she is sent to track down information and stop Ice from covering up the remnant of land which may be her people's only hope of avoiding extinction. Meanwhile, a scheming faction onboard Star Road teams up with the treacherous Ice Nuns to keep Zoya out of the way permanently. Through vivid prose, Kenyon (Tropic of Creation) portrays the harshness of the planet's environment and its creatures—such as snow witches whose moans and mimicking speech can be heard over the fiercest winds and rodents who feed on travelers. Kenyon is a surprising new talent, and SF enthusiasts will appreciate her imaginative world and characters. (Feb. 5)