In Jablokov’s (Nimbus, 1993, etc.) far-future, numerous alien species with their starspanning “deepdrives” are active in the solar system; humankind, lacking any deepdrive of its own, schemes desperately to acquire one. On Earth, various groups vie for possession of powerful Ulyani placental minds; on Mercury, insect-like Gunners launch bargeloads of radioactive materials into the sun in a vain attempt to contact their missing mothership; on Venus, the only Vronnan to enter human space, the criminal outcast Ripi, has taken refuge in a vast well excavated by the planet-chewing Bgarth. Also lurking in the well are Tiber, the sole survivor of an expedition sent to capture Ripi and force him to reveal the secret of the deepdrive, and Bgarth-imitating human Guts, while on the surface, Enforcement & Joy (the cops)are dug in to do combat against raiders. Another attempt to grab Ripi will be mounted by a group led by Soph Trost and her intelligent, self-mobile, armed-to-the-zipper-teeth luggage. Ripi, a terrier- sized male (Vronnan females are huge) and former high-ranking Clan officer, rejected his fate (his body would have been destroyed as his memories, both personal and racial, were distributed among his offspring) and fled. But now his daughter Sukh, denied status because of her memorylessness, intends to hunt him down. Soph and her associates, however, don’t know that Tiber is Sukh’s collaborator: soon enough they’ll find they’ve embarked on a journey where nothing is what it appears, and everybody has their own agenda. Astonishing, hypercomplicated, semi-surreal, with a hatful of ingeniously realized aliens shimmering beneath a delightfully sustained aura of black-comic paranoia.