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The Halcyon Drift
Hooded Swan, Book 1
Brian M. Stableford
Spieldauer: 5 Std. und 49 Min.
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In a galactic culture that extends from quasi-utopian worlds, like New Alexandria, to vermin-infested slums, like Old Earth, starship pilots have become the great romantic heroes of the day. When Star-Pilot Grainger is rescued from a shipwreck, he finds himself pressed into reluctant service to fly the Hooded Swan, the prototype of a new kind of interstellar ship. He's also picked up an alien parasite that's determined to share his brain....
Having finally escaped from his contract with Titus Charlot, Grainger finds that freedom is not as easy or rewarding as he'd hoped. The Caradoc Company is anxious to take him back into its employ in order to pick his brains-by any means necessary-to extract everything that he knows about his former employer. But Charlot has other plans, and Grainger suddenly finds himself back on the Hooded Swan, leading an expedition into the bizarre Nightingale Nebula to rescue the Swan's sister ship.
The atmosphere of Mormyr is so dense and turbulent that the surface is unreachable by any conventional means - which apparently made it the ideal place for the enigmatic Gallacellans to abandon a spaceship in the distant past. Now they want it back, and have approached Titus Charlot to enlist his help. Grainger believes the task is much too dangerous, but the Hooded Swan must answer a mayday call, which turns out to be a trap set by a madman who wants to salvage the abandoned ship-and will stop at nothing to achieve that end.
Auguste Dupin is one of the few persons in Paris who can identify the rare Cthulhu Encryption inscribed in the flesh of a dying madwoman. The Comte de Saint-Germain has a second cryptogram that's a partner to the one Dupin now owns, and believes it to be the key to a fabulous treasure hoard buried by the pirate Levasseur. Harassed by shoggoths and tracked by Saint-Germain, Dupin must find the key to the complex puzzle. Can the might of Cthulhu be held at bay? And will any answer that Dupin finds enable him and his friends to escape with their lives?
Before the hyper-space vessels could go from planet to planet, stations had to be set up. And that meant manned spaceships cut off from Earth for decades. The explorer vessel Ariadne had gone toward galactic center and was considered lost - until its call came in appealing for a xenobiologist. Their new world was all swamp. As far as could be seen, there was no intelligent species. Yes, this was alarming because all inhabitable planets so far discovered had thinking inhabitants.
Like the original Star Trek series, the Daedalus is on a multi-year mission to visit remote planets and check on previous colonization attempts. But the intricate plots and scientific detail go far beyond anything in Star Trek. Each planet visited has a unique ecosystem and evolutionary history which Stableford (a biologist himself) brings vividly to life. Alternate evolutionary paths provide fascinating turning-points for plots, and the problems encountered by the Daedalus's crew make exciting stories.
The planet called Dendra seemed too good to be true: one vast forest world, marvelous climate, few dangerous beasts, a balanced hospitable ecology -- all should have speed out a good place for a human colony.
Nicky Rosewell hadn't expected to be a candidate for biotechnological resurrection at age 27, but he's unfortunately killed by a suicide bomber while taking a shortcut through the local mall after his lunch break. Having idled away his real life, Nicky's immediate prospects of making better use of his afterlife seem rather slim. The beleagued community of albino, pink-eyed zombies is dominated by the very old, and subject to all manner of social prejudice and discrimination.
Peter Bell the Third, accidentally named from the title of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, is called upon to renew his old friendship with Rowland Usher, who was deliberately named after the protagonist of a story by Edgar Allan Poe. In the new House of Usher that Rowland is building in the Orinoco Delta, Usher explains the scientific work in genetics that he's doing there to Peter, while they both mourn Rowland's dead twin sister, Magdalen, who has apparently committed suicide for reasons that no one quite understands.