Fiction Reviews


(2003) Michael Day, Pan, 6.99, pbk, x + 666 pp, ISBN 0-330-49224-1

A rogue military coup takes over Indonesia with an agenda for regional power and anti-west policies causes concern in both the US and UK secret agencies. This concern is further fuelled by a deep sea geological sample smuggled out of Indonesia, a sample allegedly connected with a new weapon being developed. And so our civilian protagonist, a female submersible pilot, gets recruited to go undercover to find out what is going on. What is going on relates to a couple of (real-life and comparatively rare) phenomena displacing large volumes of water and that this could be used as a weapon. (The cover gives it away as in part does the title. Publishers and author: Doh!). That the West uses an environmental weapon, so muddying ethical niceties, adds a touch of realism.

Michael Day has penned an enjoyable techno-thriller. There's probably not enough science and technology to sustain a hardened SF reader but if you enjoy spies and action books then this could be for you. The science is competently handled, though the average hard SF fan will find it a breeze: you can spot when the rogue president is being bamboozled (for example a new isotope of gold that supposedly super-conducts at room temperature), though why he did not get a second opinion I don't know... Perhaps a 100 to 150 could have been trimmed off the page count but, other than that, it is a techno-thriller that will be close enough for many an SF reader to make for an enjoyable read and a bit of a change. This is Day's first book. He comes from a geography background. Whether or not he continues with techno-thrillers, or tries his hand at SF, it will be interesting to see how he brings his expertise to fiction. After all, geographers know about planets and planetary processes even if their focus is on just one, and our own is itself currently going through greater change than that seen the past 12,000 years... Plenty of geographical science material there to mine.

Jonathan Cowie

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