Science fiction's premier collaboration (most recently Escape Attempt, 1982) weighs in with a scintillating middle/far-future docudrama, the fictional memoir of Max Kammerer, head of the Department of Unusual Events. For some time, Kammerer has intimated the presence among humans of the Wanderers, space-traveling aliens who supposedly vanished ages ago; even more worrisome, he suspects the Wanderers of ""Progressorist"" activities (i.e., they are artificially directing the course of human evolution). He sends his data to the brilliant but erratic researcher Bromberg, who responds with a set of predictions for events by which the purpose of the Wanderers might be determined. (Mere days later, Bromberg dies under mysterious circumstances.) So Kammerer calls in his best field agent, Toivo Glumov, who proceeds to investigate the predicted outbreak of apparently inexplicable phenomena. Slowly an explanation emerges: the participants in, or victims of, the phenomena are being tested--by someone--for evidence of new and superior talents. Kammerer's, and eventually Glumov's, suspicions focus on the Institute for Eccentrics, a sort of clearinghouse for wild new talents; it turns out to be a hotbed of--not Wanderers, but emerging-supermen! Even worse, Glumov--to his own horror --turns out to be one of the supermen, though he resists joining them through loyalty to his boss, family, and friends. Thoughtful, intriguing, challenging work, set forth with consummate skill, and, above all, illuminated by the piercing insight characteristic of the finest Russian writing.