People tell me that I’m lucky, that I managed to hit all of Bear’s good intellectually stimulating books without running into any of the dogs. I don’t know what the dogs look like, but this book was a great thriller. The basic outline could have come out of the mind of PK Dick. The narrator -- a high level biologist and scientist working on life extension projects -- learns that his brother has been murdered and gets sucked into a bizarre world of intrigue. He lears that there has been a horrific project in the works that has as its eventual goal the mind controllability of the entire planet. At this point it sounds hokey but Bear is masterful with plot, and the amount he lets you know from point to point and the story evolves somewhat naturally, if something like this could be called natural.
The narrator meets a bunch of shady characters and works to try to figure out exactly what is going on before the bad guys get the best of him. Of course in true paranoid fashion it’s nearly impossible to tell who is a bad guy and who is a bad guy so our protagonist is constantly running around not knowing who to trust. The locations for this novel are widely disparate and weird. You could sort of see author Bear trying to figure out how to take a tax write off on a submarine ride or a trip aboard the world’s largest cruise ship. In any case the book does not disappoint and fans of Dick will be pleased to add this psychological thriller to their booklist.