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Night Train to Rigel (Quadrail #1)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,422 ratings  ·  89 reviews
It all starts when a man comes to deliver a message to Frank Compton--only to fall dead at his feet. What follows is a suspenseful thriller that only Timothy Zahn, a master of hard SF adventure, could have written.

More than two hundred years from now, the Quadrail transportation system run by the enigmatic Spiders connects civilizations throughout the galaxy. But someone i
ebook, 352 pages
Published September 15th 2005 by Tor Books (first published 2005)
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This book is not meant to be thought-provoking; its characters are not meant to be great thinkers nor are they meant to be overly developed; it is not written to become the next Great American Novel. No - it is meant to be a fun romp, an homage to the spy flicks that it constantly references. The old spy flicks of the 60s-80s (even some of the newer ones) don't give us great characters, deep thinking or plot developments - they give us action, conspiracies, villains - and nifty gadgets. And, in ...more
Futuristic Railway Intrigue. Disgraced former intelligence agent Frank Compton steps out of New Pallas Towers to find a freshly dead guy carrying a Quadrail ticket with Frank's name on it. Obviously Frank can't pass that up, and soon he's travelling on the space train, being followed by at least three people, and about to be offered a job he can't refuse: He has to prevent an intergalactic war. Or maybe an intragalactic one; it is NEVER clear.

Whatever, right? The most remarkable thing about this
Mar 18, 2011 Grant rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Grant by: Drew Alsup
A distinctly fun read - Zahn has the quality of thrusting you knee-deep into the story within the first few paragraphs of a story and Night Train to Rigel is no different. Part political-intrigue, part suspense, part mystery, and full sci-fi, Zahn deliberately keeps you in the dark as the book proceeds letting you guess along with the characters where its all leading. And it's just the first book in the trilogy.

Harkening back to the "train movie" mysteries (à la "The Lady Vanishes" and "Terror b
Snarktastic Sonja
I just re-read this book in preparation for reading the final book in the series. I have a very hard time writing a book review on a re-read as I think having had the anticipation removed hinders (at least to some degree) the enjoyment of a novel. And, based on my set criteria, I rarely cannot put a book down when I know how it ends. That being said, I originally read this book when it first came out and enjoyed it enough to read each succeeding book. The final book in the series came out late e ...more
Having read Timothy Zahn before, I was a sucker for Amazon's try-these-Kindle-books teaser. I picked up Night Train to Rigel after reading the sample.

I mean, what's not to like? Gritty, forcibly-retired, ex-Gman with a history of pissing off the wrong people; space travel by train; star-spanning empires with cool technologies and the hint of war; people dropping dead mysteriously; betrayals; mind control; and Hitchcock references.

Actually, it was the train I liked the most and something that pla
Feb 12, 2013 Soo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Soo by: Snarktastic Sonja
Shelves: reviewed
3.5 Stars

Frank Compton used to be an intelligence officer for the Western Alliance Intelligence. He's become something of a private investigator since he's left Westali. Just as he's taken on a new case, Frank finds himself entangled with a mystery involving a dead man he doesn't know, a Quadrail ticket with his name on it, and a potential enemy working from the shadows. As Frank follows one lead to another, he falls into a rabbit hole and nothing is what it seems to be.

It's been a while since
Nicole Borrelli
Night Train to Rigel is a really fun book.

It starts off a bit slow, or felt like that to me, and I wasn't so thrilled with the main character, but it's a book about a train, like a real train, that flies through a super technologically advanced tube across the galaxy! I mean, really!

Okay, I might have a thing for trains...

The good news is that even though it started a bit slow for me, there were little things that led me along until suddenly I was so caught up in the story that I might have miss
Ok, so i realize that the cover art looks terrible (a giant beaver???) but it is still a really good book.
Very good. Frank Compton, a James Bond of the future, is caught up in a complex swirl of intergalactic politics, plots and counter plots, with hints of "Murder on the Orient Express" and a dash of "The Lady Vanishes". The plot is of a fairly high standard and, while parts of the narrative are a trifle slow in places, the story is sufficiently gripping to command my undivided attention (notwithstanding the demands of a normal work day). I finished reading the story in a little over 24 hours and a ...more
Mary JL
Mar 18, 2011 Mary JL rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any science fiction fan; mystery fans might like to try it
Recommended to Mary JL by: I am a fan of this author
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
This is an excellent space opera/adventure. No great philosophical insights or incredible inventions. But a fast paced, well written tale.

Frank Compton, a former government agent for the "Western Alliance" has little time to prepare. When the messenger drops dead at his feet, he has only two hours to make the shuttle to take him to the space shuttle/ferry; he will in turn take that ferry to the Spiders' Quadrail Station.

The Quadrail--located in the outskirts of our Solar System--is an alient "tr
Yes, I know I am deeply, deeply behind on my review. In my defense, I tried to write a review of this one, but it got lost by the Interwebs, and now I'm trying to do it again. Hopefully, it will stick this time.

In short: Night Train to Rigel is a pulp/hard boiled detective novel that has found it's way into a science fiction setting. Adventure ensues. Good times are had by all.

The slightly longer version: Night Train to Rigel is the story of Frank Compton, a retired (read: fired) government inve
I always get the impression when reading Zahn that the book showing in my head is in black and white, not colour. This is less connected to any actual mentions of colours in the story, and more to the from-another-era feel of the tale. This is not to say that the story is poorly done, any more than Casablanca or The Apartment are poor films. The pacing is just different!

Oh, and I always get the impression while reading that there is no way I will ever be able to make a plot like this. It's just
Lindsey Duncan
I was a huge fan of Zahn's Star Wars sequel books when I was much younger, so I came into this hoping for a cracking good adventure ... and I was both disappointed and not.

The mystery and intrigue in this novel take off to a quick start when Frank Compton sees someone murdered in front of him and finds a ticket to the human colony Yandro on him ... made out to Frank. This ticket takes him on a path to the mysterious Spiders, who run the cross-universe railway system.

I found that understanding th
Aug 21, 2008 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Joe, noir/sci-fi lovers
This is the second Zahn book I've read and I have to say that while he writes very well I can already see hints of secrets that will probably be important later but are currently just hinted at. When reading, or rather listening to on Book On Tape, The Icarus Hunt I didn't get that there was a big secret hidden in the narrative. Now that I know that he puts big twists into his books I am looking for them, but I don't think that anyone would necessarily see it if they weren't looking for it. And ...more
It was just okay. Pretty silly overall, with by-the-numbers action sequences, and barely any science in the sci-fi.

I like what Zahn does with the "dashing rogue with a galaxy against him" genre, and the alien races were pretty cool despite being Star-Wars-y (having no discernable difference in personality/culture from humans). But this book just kinda lacked substance and gripping ideas. Zahn's earlier(?) book The Icarus Hunt was a much better, and more enjoyable, stab at the same kind of plot.

Timothy Zahn is a consistent writer. I don't remember ever saying his books are great, and I've never said they weren't good. So a safe place to turn to for a good book. The one "bad" thing I'll say is his endings are usually fairly flat. Usually not disappointingly so, but rarely really strong.

And exception is the concept of the Conqueror's series, which was well above average, but the writing was still just good--not great, not bad.

Night Train to Rigel is is no different in that respect. It re
A fun space opera/spy thriller. The protagonist is a former intelligence agent caught up in a galaxy-spanning conflict. As for many stories of the genre, the reader gets to "play along" as if he were the Watson to the protagonist's Holmes. The protagonist will state that a certain statement, event or piece of evidence has allowed him to reach a conclusion. He does not reveal immediately what that conclusion is, so the reader is left to try to determine for himself what it is and how it was reach ...more
CJ - So, you wanna play with magic?
It was a good book but I only gave it three stars because I have to admit my attention wavered a lot during this book. Don't know if it was the hardcore (to my usual fantasy taste) sci-fi words, explanations and world-building. It was very interesting and it reminded me a lot of James Bond in space and had a Dashiell Hammett hard-boiled crime fiction feel to it which was super cool. The gadgets were good but I think the main issue, and perhaps why my attention wavered, was that gadgets, relation ...more
Julie Defilippi
I must procure the remainder of this series! It really seemed very basic science fiction in the beginning and I was prepared to just enjoy a decent story and move on and then the basic historical facts are revealed and everything changes. I feel like I still don't have the whole story and am really looking forward to how it will all play out.
A wonderful adventure, a futuristic western thriller suspense novel written by a master of his trade Timothy Zahn who had been writing sci fi longer than the genre has had a name.

Can I add, it happens largely on a train!!! Futuristic train hijinks!
I just finished Timothy Zahn's Night Train to Rigel. This is the first in a series featuring former agent Frank Compton. The book starts with a death and does not slow down. The essential premise of the book is the Quadrail, a train-like interstellar transportation operated by the Spiders. The Quadrails run at 1-light year per minute (on average). This set up allows Zahn to use a rather classical detective or thriller train ride to set much of the action and confine the characters, though much h ...more
Stuart Gathman
Murder on the Quadrail Express! Transportation to the stars is nothing like we imagined it would be. Ships are too slow to go between stars. Hyperspace was a fantasy. But near a cosmic string, time and space are distorted so that if someone were to build, say, a railroad along the cosmic string, the trip between stars is a few days journey by train (this is actually a real prediction of one form of String Theory). Only one galactic civilization has the secret of arranging for cosmic strings to f ...more
It started slowly, and took me some time to get into the book, however, once I was in I was well and truly hooked. A space opera and conspiracy, as well as a thriller, with numerous references to film noir. I do wish there was an appendix for all the strange races, especially in book 1.
Fast and fun. Reminded me a tiny bit of the Stainless Steel Rat series, crossed with something like Dresden Files with the supernatural replaced with the science fictional. I will certainly read the rest.
The different civilizations of the galaxy are connected by a train. You read that correctly. And apparently the conductors of said train have a problem, and it's up to Our Hero to solve the mystery.

The only reason I made the last part sound as cliché as it does is that the male lead of the story seems very similar to the main character in Icarus Hunt. He seems to know a little too much about a little too much (a lot of "a little-known fact about such-and-such is..") and he has a very accurate in
It was okay. The story was driven by the main character holding information back from the reader, which is annoying as heck. The worldbuilding was interesting, but the execution left me bored. Won't be reading the next one.
Shannon Eichorn
I didn't expect to like any of the Frank Compton stories, but I got swept into this one like many of Zahn's other books. An enjoyable ride.
Janet Sketchley
This one stood up so well to a second reading that I changed it from 4 stars to 5. Definitely a satisfying read, including the obligatory rooftop chase across the train, a complex plot, and a few neat twists. I like Frank Compton as a hero. He's smart, savvy, and he gives nothing away. And he's not afraid to start fires or blow things up :)

Best part about reading Night Train to Rigel a second time? I remembered a few tidbits from later in the series that gave a deeper understanding, but I'd forg
Kenneth Flusche
An interesting method of faster than light travel, and an interesting introduction to alien intelligence trying to rule the universe.
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he bec ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Quadrail (5 books)
  • The Third Lynx (Quadrail, #2)
  • Odd Girl Out (Quadrail, #3)
  • The Domino Pattern (Quadrail, #4)
  • Judgment at Proteus (Quadrail, #5)
Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #1) Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #2) The Last Command (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #3) Specter of the Past (Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn, #1) Vision of the Future (Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn, #2)

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