Mild but accurate near-future satire on publishing from the veteran writer/editor (most recently The Peacekeepers, 1988).
Young MIT computer-whiz Carl Lewis has invented an electronic book with plug in chips that can revolutionize the entire publishing industry. But on his way to see his girlfriend/editor Lori Tashkajian of Bunker Books, a mysterious someone destroys the device in attempting to take X-rays of it. Bunker Books’ chief rival is Webb Press – whose rich, eccentric, wheelchair-bound boss, Weldon W. Weldon, thinks he needs Carl’s device as a weapon in his battle to avoid a takeover by organized crime. Weldon has also arranged for Webb’s whiz editor Scarlet Dean to join the editorial staff of Bunker as a spy. Compounding Bunker’s problems, schlock/horror superstar Sheldon Stoker is threatening to take his latest best seller elsewhere. But even after Carl rebuilds his device, will he be able to sell Bunker on the idea? What of Weldon? And, in a not altogether unrelated development, who is the homicidal maniac in their midst? Bova persuasively develops his ideas and formulates satisfying answers.
Since Bova abandoned ideology in favor of entertainment in his fiction, he’s improved no end: sprightly, often amusing – and sometimes very recognizable.