A newly colonized planet holds many secrets in its seemingly barren depths. But will it lead to humanity’s salvation, or its destruction?
Chasing a new frontier, humankind sends a manned starship into the universe and away from the overpopulated Earth in hopes of finding a new planet to colonize. But every Earthlike world they discover is already inhabited. As it turns out, the universe is a very crowded place. An alien council offers to lease the one remaining uninhabited world: Astra, a bleak and barren but serviceable planet. The new settlement, though, quickly experiences serious problems, from dying crops to the mysterious disappearance of anything and everything that is made of metal. And then Astra reveals a secret neither the aliens nor the human governments could ever have imagined.
The vision of an enlightened technocracy in this novel typifies the attitudes that have won both fans and detractors for Analog magazine, where this and many of Zahn's other works have appeared. If that vision seems a throwback to another era, with it comes a welcome hardheaded sense of story construction. As a very late entry in the universe of spacefaring civilizations, humankind must settle for the leavings of the older races. But the seemingly worthless and metal-free planet of Astra has a surprise that makes it the envy and target of better equippedand better-armed aliens. This is millenia-old machinery that forges metal of unknown elements. If this narrative is overshadowed by more substantial books on the theme of exploring and deciphering ancient alien artifacts, it is nonetheless a light, brisk and entertaining yarn. Paperback rights to Baen. December (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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October 15, 2012
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