Alexander Jablokov

Avon EOS Books / 320 pages / September 1998

ISBN: 0380797151

If only the human race had faster-than-light propulsion, then we could touch the stars. Who knows what other life forms we might encounter and what technologies they might share with us? It seldom occurs to us that other races may have no intention of sharing. We don’t envision a future where a variety of aliens may come to share our solar system and keep the secrets of deepdrive (FTL) to themselves. Why would anyone look at little ‘ole us and decide to keep outer space human-free? (That’s a rhetorical question, of course.)

Deepdrive confronts us with exactly that predicament.

The extraterrestrials have found us — almost a dozen races, in fact — and upon their arrival, promptly destroyed the deepdrives that brought them there. Now, none appears to be able to recreate the legendary machinery. There is some doubt that the answer is, strictly speaking, machinery.

One creature in all this crowded solar system may hold the answer to the question that consumes mankind. Ripi-Arana-Hoc, interstellar fugitive and political prisoner, could well possess the secret of the deepdrive, but no one is going find out until someone “rescues” him.

Many have tried; all have failed.

The most unlikely rescue squad of all is determined to succeed where all others faltered. Forget the fact that they have to land on a hostile planet, that some of them are also fugitives, that Ripi may know nothing — their biggest obstacle to overcome is their own association. Seldom has a group seemed so unsuited to operate as a team. Never has trust been so hard to come by.

In a situation where no one can be trusted to speak the truth, this may prove to be the biggest handicap of all.

Jablokov has taken one of the most frustrating puzzles to haunt modern humanity and created a mystery that spans the universe and impacts every sentient being. Deepdrive is not a locked-room whodunnit, but a locked system. If we’re trapped here, so are they. Heh heh. Wait, that’s not what we had in mind, at all.

Although, who really knows what the characters in Deepdrive have in mind? The motives are as complicated as the plot. It’s not a light read, but Jablokov is not a light author. Pay attention! To put it another way, if this were a film and you went out for popcorn, you would be lost when you got back. And no amount of annoying whispering would bring you up to speed, again.

Yes, Deepdrive will require mental exercise, not something that has ever been a problem for science fiction readers. And, even if a little smoke comes out your ears, it’s worth it.