||This book was a whirlwind of
science-fiction concepts, where the main character was plunged right in,
and the reader went with him. The explanations that were offered were
speculations by the main character, if he even managed to think about what he
saw at all, and that was pretty cool -the author didn't stop moving us
around enough to allow us enough time to think about it, either. It was
neat to be placed into that kind of situation, and just wonder at
This book picks up immediately where
Neptune Crossing left off, with John Bandicut, missing Charlie in his head, and the
two robots Copernicus and Napoleon, approaching a massive space station
beyond the edge of the galaxy.
enter, and then they are sent somewhere, to a world-ship that may or may
not be related to the station they originally approached. The aliens
here, presumably the masters of the station, have some awesome
technology, akin to magic to Bandicut and the readers, that allow them
to move him instantaneously and even give a semi-consciousness to the
robots. And yes, Charlie does wake up new-born inside Bandicut's head.
The first part of the story allows John to meet
an alien Ik, who saves him from sand and waves that is trying to kill
him. John then tags along on Ik's mission, which was to search out
information about the Boojum, a sentient something that is wreaking
havoc all along the station, and possibly ready to destroy it. John and
Ik both have the translator-stones that allow them to speak with each
other and other aliens on the station, as well as powers to manipulate
the doorways and portals in this place. Ik is searching for another
alien-friend, Li-Jared, who also has translator-stones.
In their search for Li-Jared, Ik and John pass
through a few different environments, from long grasslands, a desert
canyon where they are aided by meerkat-like creatures, and an alien city
that seems to have been partially abandoned. Here the meet the neat
Shadow-people, beings like Charlie (the quarx) who live in n-dimensional
space, but who maintain some critical areas of the station, though they
don't take refuge inside peoples' heads like Charlie.
With new-Charlie's help, John is able to correct
a critical overload the boojum has caused, earning he shadow-people's
everlasting gratitude. These creatures upgrade the two robots, one of
whom had been damaged, and who have now become paranoid of each other,
thinking they have been compromised by the boojum.
The race through the incomplete star-spanner down
to the park, where they grab a hotel room and John goes out to get a
message from the now-missing Copernicus was well-written. All through
the book, things happen and John moves along for the ride, always
wishing he was in control, but never managing to do it. The only thing
he does for himself is contact an alien woman who reminds him of Julie,
his lover from the last book. By the end of the book, she has joined
them, and saved his life.
The boojum finds John everywhere he goes, every
time he connects to the neural link that passes for an information
network on this station. Sometimes he is saved by Charlie, sometimes by
the fugue that used to take his mind back in
Neptune Crossing. When they
make it to the Ice Caverns, which is where they expected to find
information that could take them back home, the boojum is there waiting
for him. That also turns out to be the location of the boojum's lair,
which seems way too coincidental. Here, the boojum captures John's mind
and destroys Charlie (at least temporarily, again), but John is rescued
by the sudden appearance of the shadow-people, and the voice of the
alien woman, Antares. Her voice leads him back to his body, and the
shadow-people destroy the ice caverns, trapping the boojum and
destroying it for good.
The things I liked best about this book are
almost the same as what I had trouble with. The book was simple, and the
main characters were just swept away by events, never getting to
determine what would happen next. Things were moving too fast for them
to do more than react (and barely even that). But it was really cool to
be swept into the different environments, especially since the author
gives very detailed descriptions of whatever Bandicut is experiencing
-and even more so since nobody seems to know what is going on. The
concepts were very advanced, and the author often didn't even try to
explain them, just allowing us to experience it along with John. It was
truly a whirlwind, and fun, too.
As with Neptune Crossing, this book ends on a cliff-hanger, as John, Ik,
Li-Jared, Antares and the two robots make their way through a portal to
a star-spanner, and to a planet that appears to have a sub-oceanic city.
But Julie has also discovered the alien artefact on Neptune, and has now
been given translator-stones. Why, and how will this impact John, who
might even have a relationship with Antares soon?