Super saber-rattler Saberhagen strikes again, with the latest installment of his popular Berserker series. Solarian humanity is fighting galaxywide for survival against ultimate-weapon machines able to redesign themselves and bent on exterminating all forms of life.
With Shiva, a newly developed artificially intelligenced Berserker, heading her way, Commander Claire Normandy musters her slim force of converted courier ships piloted by a motley assortment of pickup crews in order to defend her top-secret code-breaking installation on the planetoid Hyperborea.
While Normandy fights off the invading swarm of Berserkers, space-weary combat pilot-turned-smuggler Harry Silver and his lost-found-lost-again love Becky Sharp lead Saberhagen\'s crisply drawn characters through complicated maneuvers involving an autodog Sniffer, military monomaniac Major Marut, self-anointed Galactic Emperor Julius and an escaped homicidal lunatic. Saberhagen\'s taut tough-guy dialogue counterpoints the satisfying punch of man-vs.-machine combat, and his settings,especially aboard ship and in the lofty tech areas of Hyperborea, are convincing.
When the moondust and starship debris settle, Commander Normandy\'s good guys have won some breathing room, but odds are Shiva\'s out there lurking for another episode and so is the durable Harry Silver.
\"The Berserkers, in their single-minded pursuit of their preprogrammed course of destruction, attain a kind of perverse stature that makes them worthy stand-ins for the dark side of human nature.\" The New York Times