Bewildering Stories

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The Reading Room

by Jerry Wright

In The Company Of Others
By Julie Czerneda

This fifth novel from Jule Czerneda is up for a Nebula, and deservedly so. Ms. Czerneda has two on-going series, The WebShifter and The Trade Pact Universe. This one is a stand-alone, and is the first one she's written in third person (she was concerned about that). I find her enjoyable to read and the story moves right along. You need to pay attention to details, or they will bite you.

The characters and locations are well drawn, and believable.

Everyone was desperate for the newly terraformed planets, and immigrants from a crowded Earth flocked to the space stations from which they would depart for the new worlds. Something, however, went terribly wrong.

The chief terraformer gave her fellow terraformers a life form called the Quill, a seemingly harmless filament with a soothing effect that they wore around their wrists. They had been found on a grassy, but uninhabited planet. But for some unknown reason the Quill turned deadly. The infested planets were closed off, and Earth refused to allow ships from deep space to return, for fear of contamination. The immigrants were forced to take up residence in the space stations which were never intended to support such huge populations for such an extended time.

Who or what are the Quill? Who or what is Aaron Pardell, and why would a scientist from Earth want him badly enough to set an overcrowded giant space-station to rioting? And who is the accompanying Defense Force actually defending?

Copyright © 2002 by Jerry Wright