Overlook, Nov 2003, 25.95, 316 pp.
Venus lies under a dome beneath the sea as a tremendous lure for surface visitors. Permanent residence is restricted, but tourists are encouraged. Powerful computers run the city controlling climate to include virtual flora and fauna.
Scientists work experiments using DNA remnants of dead people. These geneticists bring back to life first century gladiator Jula from the DNA remains that an archeological excavation led by Flayd discovered. Also brought back to life is eighteenth century musician Cloudio, both of whom find they feel disrupted and more comfortable with weird flashbacks to their previous lives. Meanwhile a surface musician Picaro arrives at Venus and meets Flayd, who is convinced that something catastrophic is being conducted under the auspices of the city leaders including the computers. As calamities begin to happen and the city is quarantined with no exit or entry, Flayd's theory seems more realistic. Soon, this quartet manipulated by an entity that makes Machiavelli look like kindergarten, is the last hope to stop the imminent final disaster from taking place
The five key characters (the heroic foursome plus the computer) seem genuine with personalities that in many ways are symbolic of the four forces of nature. These individuals hook the reader wanting to learn more about Flayd's conspiracy theory. However, that is the weakness of the fourth Venus novel as there is only vague references to a massive conspiracy, but no revealing of who and why especially by the city government who would appear to be biting their nose to spite their face. Thus a potentially powerful futuristic science fiction novel with a strong cast that grips the reader drowns by the ending.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner