ENDGAME ENIGMA by James P. Hogan


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Following two splendid outings (Code of the Lifemaker; The Proteus Operation), Hogan drifts away from science fiction into this near-future thriller/puzzler: the upshot is probably commercial but unambitious and not very thoughtful. Early in the 21st century, the Russians have built a huge space station--but is it bristling with Star Wars weaponry?. American Intelligence must dispatch two spies to learn the truth; however, computer expert Paula Bryce and hard-nosed pro Lewis McCain are captured almost at once. Paula is rapidly manipulated into thinking that the Russian intentions are peaceful. McCain is more suspicious; he ends up in a prison, Zamork, aboard the space station in the company of other dissidents of various nationalities. Naturally, nobody trusts anybody, but eventually McCain finds some allies with whom to search the space station clandestinely for the suspected weapons. No weapons materialize--but his colleagues find something even odder: the space station's gravity and angular momentum are not in accord with the station's known dimensions! What's going on? Well, it emerges that they're not really in space at all, but aboard an elaborate mock-up underground in Siberia! The whole thing is a cunning plot to convince the spies (and thus American Intelligence) that the Russians are good guys, whereas in fact they're planning a devastating first strike against the West. The intricate plotting intrigues at first, but eventually collapses under its own weight. Add on the diffuse characters, Cold War. model Red Menace and ho-hum futuristic back-drop--and this is at best a half-successful stab at a space-age blockbuster.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0671877968
Publisher: Bantam