Starfish lit the fuse. Maelstrom was the explosion. But five years into the aftermath, things aren't quite so simple as they once seemed...
Lenie Clarke--rifter, avenger, amphibious deep-sea cyborg--has destroyed the world. Once exploited for her psychological addiction to dangerous environments, she emerged in the wake of a nuclear blast to serve up vendetta from the ocean floor. The horror she unleashed--an ancient, apocalyptic microbe called ßehemoth--has been free in the world for half a decade now, devouring the biosphere from the bottom up. North America lies in ruins beneath the thumb of an omnipotent psychopath. Digital monsters have taken Clarke's name, wreaking havoc throughout the decimated remnants of something that was once called Internet. Governments have fallen across the globe; warlords and suicide cults rise from the ashes, pledging fealty to the Meltdown Madonna. All because five years ago, Lenie Clarke had a score to settle.
But she has learned something in the meantime: she destroyed the world for a fallacy.
Now, cowering at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, rifters and the technoindustrial "corpses" who created them hide from a world in its death throes. But they cannot hide forever: something is tracking them, down amongst the lightless cliffs and trenches of the Midatlantic Ridge. The consequences of past acts reach inexorably towards the very bottom of the world, and Lenie Clarke must finally confront the mess she made.
Redemption doesn't come easy with the blood of a world on your hands. But even after five years in purgatory, Lenie Clarke is still Lenie Clarke. There will be consequences for anyone who gets in her way-and worse ones, perhaps, if she succeeds. . . .
Behemoth: ß-Max is the first of two volumes. The story will conclude in ßehemoth: Seppuku.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
In Canadian author Watts's third but not final installment in the hard SF trilogy (see Forecast below) that began with Starfish (1999) and Maelstrom (2001), the surviving corporate elite from the earlier books and "rifters" (cyborgs created and enslaved to explore the ocean depths for corporations) hide beneath the North Atlantic while surface civilization crumbles. One of the novel's most fascinating aspects is its extremely inhospitable setting, under 300 atmospheres pressure at the ocean's sunless floor. Readers will also find themselves unwillingly gripped by the simultaneously flawed and ferocious characters, shaped by a social situation bleaker than anything outside John Shirley's early novels. They know they need to cooperate, so they are trying grudgingly to overcome their anger and hatred, though they've discovered that one way to deny personal guilt is to pursue revenge. They're uncomfortably believable, like us at our least generous moments. Finally, the writing is compelling, jittery, full of dark irony. But readers will need to pick up the earlier books to really appreciate this one.