I've never not enjoyed a book by Timothy Zahn. This Quadrail series is particularly good. Scifi adventure and a healthy mix of Murder on the Orient ExI've never not enjoyed a book by Timothy Zahn. This Quadrail series is particularly good. Scifi adventure and a healthy mix of Murder on the Orient Express. Do you like either? You should try it! Start with Night Train to Rigel.
Book 4 of a series needs to change up the formula to stand out, and this one does not disappoint. Instead of heading to a planet or station or two, the entire book is on board a (space) train across the galaxy. Nowhere to escape when something goes wrong, so find the perpetrator before they do it again! The regular villain may not be behind the things you expect this time, so the mystery keeps you guessing more than usual.
My only regret is that now there is only 1 book left! I think I remember reading in an interview (or podcast) he was planning 8 books, one for each of the major alien powers, which would have been pretty cool. Pity that didn't work out. I like it when an author's universe is big enough that there's plenty to do -- it feels cheap when they just tack things on to the end. "Hooray you defeated the Ultimate Evil according to prophecy. [next book] Oh hey there's a new bad guy in a different land and he's worse."...more
Ah, Timothy Zahn. Like comfort food from an untried restaurant -- pleasantly familiar, yet somehow new. Even his old stuff (like this one, 1985) invokAh, Timothy Zahn. Like comfort food from an untried restaurant -- pleasantly familiar, yet somehow new. Even his old stuff (like this one, 1985) invokes that for me; I have yet to be bored with one of his books -- the closest I've ever come was with The Backlash Mission, and that was mostly due to some of the backstory recap because it was a sequel.
This book had an interesting start -- what if we went to colonize the nearest star system, only to find out it was already populated? What if they then told us every star system in reach was already taken? Oh, except for this useless one that nobody one wants, you can have that. (This might have been considered a spoiler if it wasn't in the prologue chapter of the book.) Certainly an intriguing existential about-face -- to go from thinking we're the only ones out there, to suddenly finding a conglomerate of 9+ alien races operating under something like the Prime Directive (don't reveal yourselves to the undeveloped races, in this case us). How would that affect our politics, both internal and external? What would we be willing to put up with to take our place in the galaxy? "You go to great lengths for such a useless world." "It may be the only other one we ever have ... Besides, we humans are very big on challenges."
Trying not to spoil the story much, humans find the Spinneret on the unwanted planet, something that turns out to manufacture something so powerful that EVERYONE wants it. Understandably, a bunch of military, economic, scientific, and political intrigue follows, the combination of which is Zahn's specialty. As usual, his aliens are varied and interesting and actually alien, not just angry (or logical) humans with funny noses, ears, or foreheads....more