cover image Mercycle


Piers Anthony. Tafford Publishing, Incorporated, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-9623712-6-4

According to the author's note, Mer-Cycle was written in 1971 but remained unsold until now. It might better have stayed in oblivion. The plot postulates a series of parallel earths, each due to be struck by a meteor that will destroy it. A planet that has survived the meteor attack has assigned proxies to warn the many other human races and save them from being wiped out. One proxy decides against contacting world leaders--which invariably fails--and instead gathering four ``ordinary'' humans and circuitously showing them evidence of the danger, in the hopes that they would be more likely to convince the population than would unknown aliens. None of this is revealed until the 15th chapter; prior to that, five characters--who are in an aspect of reality that is 99.9% out of phase with their surroundings, so they can breathe underwater--are seen bicycling around the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean and getting to know and trust one another. The situation is unoriginal, the romance between two of these stereotypical characters is telegraphed from the instant they meet, and the framing communiques that open each chapter are repetitive. The pacing is good enough that the reader is mildly engrossed, but only mildly. (Oct.)