|User Summary:||A starship captain and his empathic alien friend look for work and find themselves involved with a new kind of jewel that proves somewhat dangerous to produce.|
This is my least favorite entry in the series so far, though since this is a pretty strong series, that's not to say it's bad. It's a fairly straightforward space adventure, falling somewhere between Star Trek and a spacebound Doctor Who episode in flavor, but generally less charming than either. The presence of a sonic screwdriver seems to suggest that the Doctor Who influence may be stronger, though it might also be a coincidence. Anyway, there are some bits of inventiveness (a flashback to the main character's childhood on an algae farm in the last section of the book, for example, is surprisingly evocative), but for every good idea, there are three or four weak attempts at characterization, implausible turns of the plot and vindictive robot taxis. I'm honestly not entirely sure what the author was trying to do here, but he didn't quite succeed; there is just enough promise on display that I might consider reading some of his short stories, though. Structurally, the book is much like the previous one, with all choices branching outward and revealing different aspects of the same basic plot, though there are longer paths and more choices here.
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Amazing Stories edition
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