From science fiction legend Alan Dean Foster comes a thrilling Pip and Flinx adventure, wherein a certain red-haired, green-eyed young man blessed (or cursed) with strange powers finds himself and his mini-dragon sidekick on a top-secret mission concerning deep space, alien worlds . . . and a primordial horror intent on devouring all of it.
In the outer depths of the universe lies the Great Emptiness, where something dreadful lurks, hidden behind a great gravitational lens of dark matter. Something horrific that howls and writhes and rages across three hundred million light-years of space–and is now heading straight for the Commonwealth and moving faster all the time.
One slim chance exists to avert catastrophe, and only Flinx can take it. Roaming the galaxy is a conscious planet-size weapons system, the legacy of a long-extinct race. As Flinx is the only one who has ever experienced mental contact with the machine, it is his job to find the powerful alien artifact and coax it into joining the battle against the behemoth from beyond.
So Pip and Flinx valiantly sail into the unknown aboard their little spaceship, which is immediately forced down for emergency repairs on planet Arrawd, home to less advanced sentients and therefore off-limits to space travelers. But what with Arrawd being very beautiful, and Flinx being Flinx, this particular rule doesn’t stand a chance.
Now, Flinx is no stranger to murderous attacks and stalking assassins—evading them occupies most of his waking hours–but to be besieged by hordes bent on worshipping him as a god? Worse still, escaping this fate is going to be as impossible as fulfilling his dire mission. What’s a deity to do?
In the better than average 11th installment of Foster's popular Pip and Flinx series (after 2004's Sliding Scales), the empathetically gifted Flinx and his mini-dragon companion, Pip, go in search of a weapon to use against a powerful enemy. When Flinx's sentient spaceship, Teacher, needs to repair itself, they land on the lovely world of Arrawd, which has the necessary raw materials. There Flinx meets the fisherman Ebbanai and his shrewd wife, Storra, who soon discover that Flinx not only shares their empathic powers but can also miraculously heal the sick residents of Arrawd. Soon enough, Ebbanai and Storra, as well as the local rulers, are exploiting Flinx's gifts for their own monetary gain. By now, the detour on Arrawd has already forced Flinx to defy his mission and his principles. Flinx will have to fight back with Teacher's weaponry and survive a suicide bombing by religious fanatics before the sadder but wiser people of Arrawd will let him go. Meticulous, if sometimes tedious, descriptions render the strange landscapes and characters of Foster's world with believable clarity. A classic alien-contact novel, this recalls the work of the late Hal Clement.