Collaboration between the veteran Clarke (The Hammer of God, 1993, etc.) and the late McQuay (Puppetmaster, 1991, etc.) about near-future earthquakes, politics, and environmental disaster. By the 2030s, the Nation of Islam (NOI) is orchestrating a civil war in California (and demanding an independent state of its own); China is the dominant world power; and the global ecology nears collapse because the ozone layer has vanished, while southern Europe and the Middle East have been wiped out by Israel's nuclear self-immolation. Lewis Crane survived the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994 but lost his parents—and now he's the foremost authority on earth tremors. His obsession is to be able to predict earthquakes precisely; on an altogether nuttier plane, he dreams of preventing earthquakes by welding the Earth's crustal plates together with nuclear bombs! Armed with the computer simulation he needs to complete his research, Crane predicts a giant earthquake in Middle America and accepts the backing of Li Cheun, the Chinese businessman who runs the US. But Li betrays Crane for political gain, while the earthquake fails to materialize on time (though it does happen). Later, the NOI attacks Crane's mountain headquarters, killing his wife. So Crane turns his attentions elsewhere, buying real estate on the Moon and starting a colony secure from Earth's imminent breakdown. Long-windedly un-Clarke-like but engagingly peopled, and, while improbable, never dull.
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