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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:four moon gifBantam Books ISBN 0-553-58154-6
Megan O'Flannery enjoys her status as one of the top scientists in her field. So when MindSim offers her a job working on the artificial intelligence for their latest android she really can't refuse. Even if it means being isolated on a secret base in the middle of the Nevada desert with just an immature android for company.

Book: Catherine Asaro, The Pheonix CodeImmediately upon her arrival, Megan decides the problem with the android's lack of development arises from the heavy restrictions programmed into its conscience. With a little hesitation, Megan decides to lift a few of the restraints. The ensuing improvements appear to help the android's development, though Megan soon becomes aware of potential problems with Ander's behavior towards her. Ander the android shows signs of sexual attraction.

An almost completed android of a similar design by rival company, Arizonix, pushes Megan to work harder and faster with Ander's development. Staging a major coup, MindSim manages to poach Arizonix's lead scientist, Chandrarajan Sundaram (Raj) to help Megan work with Ander.

This good news really boosts Megan's spirits, not to mention (of course) the effect of Raj's smile and dark good looks. Unfortunately, after Raj joins Megan and Ander in the secret facility, Ander's behavior becomes even more erratic and dangerous.

Yet, something about Raj leaves Megan -- along with her suspicions -- aroused. Even when Ander goes crazy and kidnaps both Megan and Raj, Megan remains unsure whether she can really trust either human or android.

Book: Catherine Asaro, Catch the LightningFilled with sexual tension, high technology and action, The Phoenix Code stands out as a made-to-be-filmed novel almost worthy of James Bond. Asaro slowly develops her characters and their situations to the point where the reader, along with Megan, must sift through all the facts, trying to discover which of the many truths correlates to reality.

The Phoenix Code builds to a wonderfully unusual climax making this one of Asaro's best novels so far. Read it, or be doomed to brain death foreverů

Stephen Smith

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