Review

Sci-Fi 101: Experiments In Weird Science

EW reviews three science fiction books

In the third book in a series, a rebellious crew is exiled from earth to colonize a new planet. LOGLINE Cocoon meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. SOURCE OF ANGST When raw materials run scarce on the new planet, it becomes harder to prolong life by ''faxing'' a fresh, youthful copy of yourself. ''Oh, God, Brenda. The machines are breaking faster than you can build them.'' THEMES Agelessness, solar sailing. LOWDOWN Settling the alien planet is a gas, but the trip there takes centuries. B

Art Berry's partners double-cross him in a scheme to sell a Napster-like service to drivers on the Mass Pike. LOGLINE Clerks meets Startup.com. SOURCE OF ANGST Art lives in London but keeps up with his clan by sleeping on Eastern Standard Time, ''which means that my poor pineal gland has all but forgotten how to do its job...'' THEMES Smart design, bureaucracy hacking. LOWDOWN Tribe is packed with big ideas; like a dotcom business plan, some flop and others take off. B-

Scientist Nicholas Hyde must uncover the origin of bioengineered hominids terrorizing the Congo. LOGLINE Outbreak meets Jurassic Park. SOURCE OF ANGST ''Nick cuts the connection, thinking that this isn't going to blow over after all, thinking that maybe it's time to get out, move on. Maybe even change his identity again...'' THEMES Genetic experimentation, green radicalism. LOWDOWN A pop thriller that's also a scarily believable tale of unchecked corporate greed.

Originally posted Mar 19, 2004 Published in issue #756 Mar 19, 2004 Order article reprints