A far-future Moby-Dick by the author of Schismatrix: A desperate addict on a bleak, arid planet boards a whaling vessel to hunt the drug he craves.
The powerful narcotic syncophine, commonly known as Flare, comes from only one source: the oil of the gargantuan whale-like beasts that swim the dust sea of Nullaqua. It was John Newhouse’s addiction to the substance that made him a dealer and forced him to move to this airless, inhospitable planet. But when the all-powerful galactic Confederacy declares Flare illegal, the needs of Newhouse and his clientele leave the desperate off-worlder no choice but to sign on as an able seaman aboard a dustwhaler and hunt the giant creatures himself. Joining a crew of junkies and misfits, including a mad captain with his own dark and secret agenda and a bewitching, batlike alien woman who is pained by human touch, Newhouse sets out across the silica ocean at the bottom of a seventy-mile-deep crater in search of release and redemption . . . and sails toward a fateful confrontation between man and beast that could lead to catastrophe.
Bruce Sterling’s debut novel is a remarkable feat of world building—imaginative, provocative, and smart, featuring an unforgettable cast of colorful characters. If Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick unfolded on Frank Herbert’s Dune, the result might be something akin to Sterling’s extraordinary Involution Ocean.
“An absolutely stunning tour de force.” (Harlan Ellison)
“Sterling joins the ranks of those daring science fiction creators who invent futures of startling complexity.” (Locus)
“Sterling has expanded my mind. . . . He’s better than drugs—there’s none of the nasty side-effects.” (John Shirley, screenwriter of The Crow)