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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-08-25
  • Publisher: Del Rey
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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 therewhen 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 missingalong with all means of communication. Of course, the marooned teammates 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.

Author Biography

Alan Dean Foster has written in a variety of genres, including hard science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, Western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: The Approaching Storm and the popular Pip & Flinx novels, as well as novelizations of several films including Transformers, Star Wars, the first three Alien films, and Alien Nation. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first science fiction work ever to do so. Foster and his wife, JoAnn Oxley, live in Prescott, Arizona, in a house built of brick that was salvaged from an early-twentieth-century miners’ brothel. He is currently at work on several new novels and media projects.

From the Hardcover edition.



Like everyone else on theDampier,Tellenberg was a volunteer and a polymath. With a full crew of only half a dozen there was no room on the low-budget expedition for specialists. At least among the scientific complement, everyone had been chosen for their ability to do work in several disciplines. Tellenberg hoped he would have the opportunity to exercise all of his considerable range of knowledge. Like the others, his greatest fear had been that they would emerge from space-plus to find that the world they were charged with surveying and exploring was nothing more than a myth.

If it accomplished nothing else, the mission had already put that particular worry to rest.

Quofum was there, a thickly cloud-swathed world situated between the orbits of the system’s second and third planets, exactly where the much earlier robot probe had predicted. As theDampierdecelerated toward its destination, he hurried forward to catch a first glimpse of the new world through the sweeping port that dominated the bridge. Screens in his cabin and the lab could have provided much more detailed representations. But experiencing a new world in the form of a projection as opposed to viewing it in vivo was not the same thing. In this manner Tellenberg had previously been privileged to experience first contact with two newly discovered planets. Quofum would be his third and, if the preliminary survey turned out to be valid, the most unusual.

An unusual world fit for an unusual researcher. Twenty years ago Esra Tellenberg had suffered the loss of both arms and both legs in a laboratory accident. Only the telltale darkening of his skin below the shoulders and the knees marked him as a multiple regenerate. From research devoted to studying echinoderms skilled gengineers and doctors had long ago learned how to manipulate genes to induce severely damaged human beings to regrow lost limbs. A far better and more natural option than mechanical prosthetics, these bioengineered replacements were indistinguishable from the appendages they replaced–except for one unanticipated difference. No matter how hard the cosmetic biologists worked at solving the problem, they always had a difficult time matching melanin.

Tellenberg’s own body had regrown his arms and legs, but from shoulder and knee down his flesh was noticeably darker. Body makeup would have rendered hues the same. Being a scientist and not a fashion model, he disdained their use. Thus clearly and unashamedly colored as a regenerate, it was to be expected that he would be nicknamed “starfish.” He wore the label amiably, and with pride.

He was the last to arrive on the bridge. With a full complement of six, it was not crowded. Though its intensity and size had been greatly diminished by changeover and the drop back into normal space, the luminous violet of the posigravity field projected by the ship’s KK-drive still dominated the view ahead. As theDampiercontinued to decelerate, the field’s strength steadily moderated, revealing the rest of the view forward and allowing them a first glimpse of their destination.

“Pretty substantial-looking. Not like something that would go popping in and out of existence.”

While he was a master of multiple skills who could lay claim to several specialized credentials, Salvador Araza simply preferred to be called a maintenance tech. As well as a way of showing deference toward those from whom he had learned, it was also an honest expression of modesty. Tall, slender, and as dark as Tellenberg’s regenerated forearms, he tended to keep to himself. So much so that the xenologist was surprised to hear the expedition’s jack-of-all-trades venture an unsolicited opinion. More expressive even than his face, Araza’s hands were by far his most notable feature. Tellenberg had

Excerpted from Quofum by Alan Dean Foster
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