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!!!!!SPOILERS!!!!LEAVE!!!!SPOILERS!!!!YOU SHOULDN'T BE HERE ANYWAY!!!SPOILERS!!!!LEAVE!!!!

 

It's still our world down there . . . but not anything we know. Our government has spent thirty-trillion dollars on space exploration, and less than 1 percent of that to explore the world underneath us right now. But it's just as unknown.

p.52

 

I just can't hold still with this book anymore. Considering its "overwhelming reek of darkness"(p.87), I guess I absorbed that submariner's sickness: claustrophobia leading to despair and insanity, then death. I guess I felt trapped in the prose and not able to escape. Like Luke's "unhealthy ruminations"(p.122) about his mother, nicknamed Battle-Ax Beth, whose "cruelty was an implicit facet of her nature"(p.18). Or, his six-year-old son who, one day in the park, said, "let's play hide-and-seek, Daddy!"(p.113) and "seek" became forever. That was seven years ago.

Now, our wimpy-going-wonky hero, Luke Nelson, who is a veterinarian, is tasked with seeing what the fook is going on in a bathescope laboratory eight miles down at the bottom of the Mariana Trench where his older brotherflawed scientist and sociopathic misfitClayton has discovered something called Ambrosia. Now this is future-world because something called 'Gits is pandemic to humans and is dropping them like Alzheimer's on meth. Well, Ambrosia is strutting around the sea-lab teasing the team with "I'm the cure! I'm the cure". Plotwise, humanity, once again, is swallowing back on extinction. I guess this means that all this is REAL IMPORTANT.

It better be, 'cause there's only 3 people down there to save us. Well, 4 counting the crazy Dr. Hugo Toy, with his "coppery, festering face of madness"(p.108), who seems to always be somewhere else "slipping a gear"(p.109). Oh yeah, and a Labrador named Little Bee. ClaytonI'm projecting herewould call them all "specimens". Oops, almost forgot the obligatory woman. She's Alice, nicknamed AI(1). She's the pilot and, so far, very Ripley-like, but still, a woman, which means emotional complications "under the hammering intensity of a trillion tons of water"(p.123).

So now, hold it. Is this a modern re-imagining of Lem's Solaris from 1961? With a little of Cameron's Aliens from 1986 thrown in for fervency?

With a dog whose name shoulda been Koontz(2)?

What'll they find next? A baby in swaddling clothes? Their dead SOs alive in bed in the morning?

Being very confined and trapped in a setpiece like Trieste certainly challenges any writer. Author Cutter expands mental action with dreams and flashbacks to the boys' tragic childhood domineered by a delusional Alpha Mom and an Omega Dad, mooning "around her petticoats, begging for scraps of affection"(p.77). Technological questions are handled deftly and don't get in the way of this terrifying squeeze pulsing the pages.

Okay, this is a full-bore, page-devouring thriller, no doubt. I had a difficult time flushing it. All my projects and duties were clogged by its demanding presence. Finally, I read it like riding an air bubble to the ocean's surface: fascinating and fun but pretty predictable on where it was going.

But don't take my word for it. I quit at page 214 out of 394.

 

1) AI? Can Alice be a 'bot? Huh?

2) You know, Watchers from '87, right?

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