= PIONEERS =
An SF Novel by John Argo
Twenty-five light years from dying Earth, a fresh, earth-like planet broadcasts radio invitations to come to a thriving alien starport. Paul and Licia Menard (lovers) are among 6 last surviving humans. They journey 1,000 years hoping to join an advanced star-faring civilization.
What the pioneers find instead is a world of jungles and plains, with no sign of advanced civilization, but ancient ruins everywhere. They discover blue-skinned, stone age village people with dim cultural memories of star flight, and—as they excavate a long-ago sealed mound on a lonely plain--answers to questions nobody ever thought to ask.
Already, one of the pioneers is dead—from a lander crash upon leaving the mothership. Dead is engineer Tynan’s spouse, Nancy—meaning one of three breeding pairs is lost. Another couple, the Wengs, are lost somewhere—it’s not clear if their life craft burned up in orbit, or crashed and burned, or if the two scientists are struggling alone and lost someplace far away. Paul and Licia’s lander burned up on crashing, though the two just barely escaped unhurt. With each of the three life craft/landers that is lost, an entire library of dead Earth’s civilization is gone forever. At present, the only remaining hope is that the Wengs and their ship survived its landing. The mothership itself, loaded with records and tools, entered the atmosphere and burned up.
There are just three pioneers accounted for in Akha: the dangerously explosive trio of Licia and Menard--plus the odd man in: handsome, rugged Tynan, who soon starts eye contact with Licia. Sparks fly, and one of the men must leave, forever, on his own in a vast wilderness haunted by roaring beasts. Will it be Menard or Tynan? Ancient laws of evolution, survival, rivalry, and conquest kick in. It’s the Human Condition, at its last gasp, far from lost Earth. Is there any hope for mankind?
The three pioneers who landed together—Licia, Menard, and Tyan--receive limited and conditional hospitality from a puzzling, human-like blue people in a prairie village. They are barbarians amid the ancient ruins of a fabulous star port.
Menard and his fellow surviving colonists befriend a beautiful, exotic blue princess named Auska. Her father is a local stone age shaman who, like all his people, is illiterate—and yet, he wears a metal disk that carries with it telepathic images of a fabulous, long ago starport named Avamish. To make matters more complicated, Auska becomes part of the pioneer love polygon. Is she clever and deadly, or a brave pioneer in her own right?
Every year, the shamans and people from around the blue world gather in eerie, crumbling, empty Avamish for the annual Storybook Festival. Out of desperation, the three pioneers and Auska join her father and shamans from Akha on a long journey to the ruined starport—which contains far more secrets than anyone had imagined. Avamish calls the pioneers into its muted and haunting embrace.
This novel is a node in the Side Time Sector of John Argo's Empire of Time series. More info at Clocktower Books (clocktowerbooks.com).
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Copyright © 1996 by John T. Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.