The resumption of the far-future Book of the Long Sun series starring Patera Silk in the city of Viron aboard the giant spaceship The Whorl. Wolfe (Lake of the Long Sun, 1993, etc.) sets epochal political battles in motion, throws gods into the fights, and imagines a bestiary of technologies and technologically created beings. There are more characters here than in a 19th-century Russian epic, and their names are even harder to remember (or spell). Not to fear. Wolfe has included a six-page directory of characters (``Gods, Persons, and Animals Mentioned in the Text''). Readers who have already been on The Whorl for the first two books of the series will plunge happily into this installment.