cover image Watermind


M. M. Buckner. Tor, $24.95 (301pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-2024-7

Buckner (War Surf ) theorizes a brand-new intelligence emerging from electronic trash in this cautionary near-future tale. When troubled MIT grad school dropout CJ Reilly encounters bizarre ice covering steamy Louisiana’s polluted Devil’s Pond, she has visions of saving the world after she analyzes a sample and discovers its power to purify water. Then the mysterious substance responds to music and begins to move, and Reilly becomes convinced of its sentience. When it kills a man, scientist Roman Sacony, whose company owns the pond, is determined to utterly destroy the emerging life form, while CJ insists on trying to save it. Despite the suspense and nonstop action, unlikable characters make it hard to root for anyone, and the scientifically sound ending is narratively unsatisfying. The story succeeds best when it traverses Louisiana’s geography, and only indifferently when it traverses the human heart. (Nov.)