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Peter Watts lives in Toronto, Canada.


In the near future, energy comes from the geothermal waters of the deep ocean, but the cost of providing power for the surface has a priceÄthe sanity of the physically modified humans ("rifters") who live in an alien and dangerous environment. Watts's first novel elegantly captures the isolation and claustrophobia of the lightless ocean depths, smoothly blending psychological suspense with high-tech sf adventure. Large libraries should consider adding this to their sf collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"No one has taken this premise to such pitiless lengths--and depths--as Watts.... In a claustrophobic setting enlivened by periodic flashes of beauty and terror, the crew of Beebe Station come across as not only believable but likeable as they fight for equilibrium against their own demons, one another, their superiors and their remorselessly hostile surroundings." - The New York Times"

Set in the early 21st century, Watts's debut describes a future when the search for energy leads to the tapping of geothermal sources deep in the ocean, as in the Pacific's Juan de Fuca Rift, near Canada's Northwest coast. The maintenance workers of the dangerous underwater power plants are selected for their psychotic tendencies, which enable them to forget their previous lives on dry land, and are then surgically altered to survive the intense pressure of the sea's abyssal depths. These changes, which render the workers amphibious, also leave them less than well equipped to face the threat of powerful, archaic bacterialike creatures that proliferate at the ocean bottom and use human hosts to carry them upward to dry land, where their superior DNA could render our species obsolete. The human resistance to these life forms is described with a great deal of explicit violence and graphic language, as well as well-orchestrated paranoia that recalls the classic SF tale "Who Goes There?" Watts's characterizations aren't strong but, as in Arthur C. Clarke's The Deep Range, the underwater setting and the technology employed there function as characters in their own right, and quite vigorously. The novel's pacing is excellent, making this, overall, a good bet for beach reading. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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