Maybe-here-and-now yarn about a project to drill a hole down to the Earth's core in order to study the source of the planet's magnetic field, which is breaking down and wobbling about and threatening to cause all sorts of disasters. From the author of Starfire, Human Error, etc. In the embers of the first atomic explosion at White Sands during WW II, Cyrus Hudder discovers an extraordinary new crystal, harder than diamond, impossible to melt. Cyrus has long dreamed of drilling down to the Earth's core; now, if he lines the hole with ``hudderite,'' the idea seems feasible. Eventually, however, having screwed up his life, Cyrus disappears, an apparent suicide. Fortunately, Leidy, Cyrus's estranged son, shares his dream; so Leidy teams up with researcher Marta McDougal for years of experiments and fund-raising in order to get the project underway. Cyrus, meanwhile, has been recruited by a mysterious oil company to engineer a deep hole in great secrecy somewhere in the Middle East. Just as Leidy's hole reaches the core, Cyrus discovers that he's been working for Arabs whose real purpose is to wipe Israel off the map by triggering monster earthquakes. Notwithstanding the inherent improbability of any such material as hudderite: a fascinating scientific-technical spectacle, and never mind the tepid romancing, humdrum father-son clashes, and generally creaky plot.