Interstellar troubleshooter John Bandicut returns for an amiably routine third installment (after Strange Attractors) in Carvel's Chaos Chronicles, journeying to a world where the dominant civilization, the Neri, live under the sea. There, Bandicut and his motley crew (comprised of three aliens, two robots and an artificial intelligence in Bandicut's brain), aided by "translator-stones" that let him communicate with other species, deal with two menaces: the Astari, land-dwelling survivors of a crashed starship, and the Maw of the Abyss, a sapient interstellar portal that has accidentally endangered the planet while trying to repair itself. The witty tale moves briskly, as Bandicut and company solve one puzzle after another, but the multiplicity of technological marvels leaves many of them underdeveloped or implausible. Flavorless dialogue, moreover, undermines not only the wit but the characterization, particularly of the aliens. Loyal fans of the series should enjoy this competent, but by no means exceptional, work.