Feedbooks, Inc. (under Creative Commons license)
DESCRIPTION: In a future where personal genetic modification is commonplace and Mankind's footprint extends deep into the Milky Way, new wonders seem harder and harder to come by. Then a deep-space probe, sent out centuries ago to a violent binary star formation known as SS Cygni, returns with astonishing footage: a brief, tantalizing glimpse of a serpentine object swimming through superheated plasma... an object that appears to be alive, in conditions that would incinerate even artificial constructs.
The corporate brain of Biolathe, Inc. recruits a five-member crew for a risky mission to confirm the probe's report and - if possible - capture one of these star dragons for study. But the probe that caught the image had very limited capabilities, leaving many questions unanswered about just what it was that it saw... and, in the chaotic maelstrom of SS Cygni, unanswered questions could prove deadly.
REVIEW: This tale of interstellar sci-fi caters to the hardcore science geek. Brotherton, an astrophysicist, leans heavily on industry jargon and college-level technobabble as he hypothesizes not only a biomechanically-based future, but life in a seemingly unlivable environment. Having little but a dusty high-school knowledge of physics, I could only hunker down during the frequent squalls of Science. Between them, the human elements of the crew provide nearly as much tension and drama as the question of the star dragons. Unfortunately, of the five crew members, three proved fundamentally annoying, including the pair most central to the story. Still, watching them spar over relationships, philosophies, and approaches to the problems faced by the mission gave my feeble little brain something to relate to. (I also have to say that, as high and mighty as the Science was that Brotherton marinated the story with, I - an uneducated peon - saw one major plot twist coming a mile away.) As for the star dragons, they were interestingly alien, though the ultimate explanation of their origins drained a little of the sense of wonder. I'm sure if I had a greater knowledge of astrophysics (or just a generally higher IQ) I would've appreciated this story more. As it stands, while I enjoyed some of the mind's eye candy, I just felt too alienated to really connect with it.
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