cover image The Face of the Waters

The Face of the Waters

Robert Silverberg. Three Rooms, $16 trade paper (386p) ISBN 978-1-953103-27-7

Silverberg (Among Strangers) demonstrates why he’s earned the title of SFWA Grand Master in this immersive epic. Centuries after the destruction of Earth, humanity struggles to survive on other planets, including Hydros, a world covered in oceans dotted with the occasional artificial island. At the start of the book, 78 humans live on Hydros’s Sorve Island, but after Nid Delagard, the owner of a fleet of ships, accidentally kills a group of intelligent aquatic mammals known as divers, the entire human population is forced into exile from Sorve by the Gillies, the aliens who built the island. This involuntary exodus leads to a desperate quest for a new home, with the population divided among six ships, which must brave interactions with multiple hostile life-forms and foul weather that threaten to sink them. The ensuing epic voyage is largely told through the perspective of the community’s doctor, Valben Lawler, a devoted healer himself tormented by psychological wounds he treats with an addictive narcotic. The intricate plot offers plenty of surprises as it builds toward a haunting and complex ending. This is hard sci-fi done right. Agent: Chris Lotts, Lotts Agency. (Oct.)