Dr. Mackenzie Connor is more interested in salmon than aliens. She's happily studying fish migration runs in the Pacific Northwest when she's interrupted by Brymn, an alien archeologist who's traveled light years to seek her out. Biology is a forbidden study among his people, and he needs Mac's expertise to find out why all life forms have died out in a region of space known as the Chasm. Mac wants nothing to do with Brymn's quest, until an attack is made on her field base.
Czerneda makes the jump to hardcover with her new Species Imperative series. There are some elements of hard science fiction here, with interplanetary travel and alien threats, but the focus on biology rather than technology is a refreshing and original approach to a familiar plot. Mac's growth from single-minded researcher to open-minded explorer of both physical and emotional terrain is at the heart of the story. (May, 464 pp., $23.95)
Jen Talley Exum