A great interstellar migration has begun, down the gateway known as the starstream. Remnant of the Betelgeuse supernova, the starstream is a grand, ethereal highway deep into the Milky Way. It is also a living entity: born of the merged souls of the once-living star and the other beings who died in its creation. Who could have predicted the wonders of the starstream, or the perils it unleashed Among the perils is a terrifying race known as the Throgs-shadowy beings that live in the n-space of the starstream. Entire worlds have died, destroyed by the Throgs. But life goes on, and colonists continue to settle new worlds. Colony-bound aboard the starship Charity are one Claudi Melnik, a child of uncommon talents-and an AI named Jeaves, who has his own interest in an encounter with Throgs. When the unthinkable occurs, Claudi must face alone the challenge from beyond space and time. And no one, not even Jeaves, could have predicted the final confrontation, or imagined where unexpected friendship would be found. Down the Stream of Stars, triumphant sequel to the bestselling From a Changeling Star, is a daring journey across the gulf between human and alien, to the heart of consciousness itself.
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December 01, 1990
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Excerpt from Down the Stream of Stars by Jeffrey A. Carver
Alpha Orionis A (Betelgeuse) Remnant
Year 181 Sp.
Clouds of ejected star matter billowed luminously into space like the breath of a mythical god. The ghostly ball at their center was all that remained of the once-mighty sun, Betelgeuse. Three years before, the supergiant had blazed forth in a vast supernova explosion, transforming itself from a living star into a funeral pyre that had briefly outshone the Milky Way. Its ghostly appearance now betrayed the unusual nature of its death. No ordinary supernova--even one ending, as this had, in a black hole--would have contracted and darkened in quite this way. Its smoky translucence spoke eloquently of the invisible forces that had bound it into an oddity of cosmic proportion, an object of Promethean power and mystery.
Its outer layers blazed in the viewscreen as the starship sped inward through the remnant clouds. The display changed every few seconds, highlighting various aspects of its structure. Many on the bridge found their glances drawn repeatedly to the image on the viewscreen. Starship Elijah was diving toward the stellar remnant through the shifting reality of K-space, and tremendous computing power was at work creating that image out of the streams of data pouring into the ship.
Most of the crew were busy at their consoles. But one person, seated at the rear of the bridge, ignored all else but that irresistible vision of the star's ghost. She faced it with her eyes half closed, focusing on its presence with her memory, her imagination, her inner vision. Tamika Jones cared not at all about the astrophysical data streaming across the consoles. She was searching for just one thing, and that was the touch of a mind--a mind that she hoped still lived out there in the remnant of a once-living star. It was a mind she had not felt in three years, not since the moment of the star's death.
In that moment, she had felt him die, too--had mourned his death. But in the midst of her grief she had hoped, prayed, felt that the man without whose genius this strange, unprecedented thing would not exist, had somehow passed through the shadow of death, through the heat and fury of a supernova, and lived. And that was why she was here now, to search for this man who had perhaps survived death. She was here to find Willard Ruskin.
She felt the stirring and muttering of her shipmates' minds around her, like memory-voices chattering and distracting her. That was the effect of the continuous altering of the K-space that carried the ship inward toward the unknown. Transitions through K-space boundaries produced an involuntary cross-linking of neighboring minds--which could be alarming when unexpected--but they were counting upon it now to join them with Willard, or his companions, or whatever might remain of them. She hardly knew what the mind she was seeking might feel like--reaching to her across the gulf of space that separated them from the star, and from whatever lay in the twisted continuum beyond it.
She hardly knew, really, what she was hoping to find.
What her shipmates hoped to find deep within the supernova remnant, close to the black hole inhabiting its core, was the opening to a new interstellar gateway--a structure that would whisk Elijah and untold ships to follow at some unimaginable speed toward the galactic center. It was for that gateway that the majestic Betelgeuse had died at the hands of Project Breakstar. It was for that gateway that a fantastically stretched loop of flawed space had been caught and anchored to the resulting black hole. It was for that gateway that a man named Willard Ruskin, and his best friend Max, had died.