Tor, Sep 2002, 24.95, 432 pp.
Jakob Faraday is part of an expedition exploring Jupiter when intelligent animals Qanska apparently attack his Skydiver 7 bathyscaph. Jakob fears his vessel will be crushed, but he fortunately escapes back to the mother ship.
Twenty years later, the Five Hundred fund a project involving Matt Raimey, a quadriplegic due to a skiing accident, to be placed inside the womb of a Qanska. When Matt is reborn, he will retain his human consciousness inside the body of a Qanska. Thus Matt, who felt he had nothing to live for before this opportunity, would serve as a bridge between the two species. As the Five Hundred and the Qanska each have hidden agendas, Matt now known as Manta, finds himself pulled in two directions that test his loyalty to his former life and to his current family.
MANTA'S GIFT is an action-packed futuristic tale that also coaxes the reader into deep thinking about biological issues that are not easily resolved unless you are a die hard a democrat or a republican. The key characters make the worlds of the future seem real, but especially critical is that the audience believes the human Matt essence was indeed reborn as the Qanska Manta. The criticality works as the conscience center of the novel that leads to the audience wondering what the biological possibilities of today's technology can achieve tomorrow. When creative Timothy Zahn goes for all out action, he succeeds with a powerful adventure, but also takes the audience away from the biological debate that makes this a gift to those fans who relish a thinking terse thriller.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner