The Humanx Commonwealth: Book Eight.
The mission to planet Quofum to investigate unknown flora and fauna is supposed to be a quickie for Captain Boylan and his crew.
The first surprise is that Quofum, which seems to regularly slip in and out of existence, is actually there when they arrive. The second surprise is Quofum's wild biodiversity: the planet is not logical, ordered or rational. But the real shock comes when the crew members not only find a killer in their midst but discover that their spaceship is missing - along with all means of communication.
Of course, the marooned team-mates know nothing about the Great Evil racing toward the galaxy, or about Flinx, the only person with half a chance to stop it. Nor do they know that Quofum could play a crucial role in defeating the all devouring monster from beyond.
Setting the stage for the final book in the popular Pip and Flinx series, this intriguing first contact mystery ends on a cliffhanger without resolving a thing. In an otherwise unremarkable star system outside Commonwealth space, the planet Quofum seems to appear and disappear at will. A crew of xenologists sent to study the life forms that enjoy Quofum's earthlike atmosphere and alcohol-laced water oceans are shocked to discover four primitive intelligent species so unlike one another that they couldn't possibly have evolved on the same world, as well as a vast underground complex full of mysterious technology. While this novel may fill in background details for Flinx Transcendent, expected next year, it's hard to see why one needs an entire book of what is, essentially, backstory.