After a freak shuttle accident (or was it an accident?) results in the death of the Pathfinder Ship Pegasus's original commander, William Randolph Keeler is tapped as his unlikely successor. An eccentric college professor, fond of distilled spirits, and largely ignorant of the technical details of the giant ship's functions, Keeler is considered an easy mark by his ambitious second officer, Goneril Lear, and a threat to the ship by his Chief Tactical Officer, Phil Redfire. His first night on board is marked by the arrival and sudden departure of a woman who warns him the ship is in extreme danger.
The ship safely transits to the colony of Meridian, much to the commander's relief. Things go bad in rapid succession afterwards. The ship undergoes a complete systems failure, and mysterious consciousness arises in the ship's artificial intelligence. This consciousness, called 'Caliph,' arose from the cloned portion of the alien probe that formed the ship's artificial intelligence. Convinced that the planet Meridian constitutes a grave threat to the ship, Caliph takes control of the ship and launches a missile attack against the planet.
Meanwhile, the colony itself is found to be under the thrall of alien invaders, who are physically transforming the colony's human inhabitants into something inhuman. The landing party is captured by the aliens, and Goneril Lear is coerced into cooperating with them to help them conquer Republic and Sapphire as well.
Meridian is the Fourth planet (of eight) in the system 12 822 Pegasus, orbiting a single yellow dwarf sun. Its skies and oceans are both green, the ocean's being a dark, almost black, and the sky a pale chartreuse. There is one large continental landmass sprawling across, primarily, the northern hemisphere, surrounded by islands and archipelagoes of various sizes. Its climate is warmer than Earth's and it has no polar ice caps. It also apparently does not posses the correct atmospheric conditions for thunder.
Trivia and Obscure References
- The plot of Book 1 involving the alien invasion and subsequent transformation of the Meridian colony is similar to the plot of The X-Files.
- "St. Beryl" is a reference to "St. Beryl the Leaper" from the 1967 film Bedazzled.
- The line "The Ale the Made Matthias Significant" is a play on the old ad slogan for Old Milwaukee, "The Beer that made Milwaukee famous."
- The character of Daisy Reagan is based on Granny Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies.
- The Writ of Common Wisdom is a reference to the old SNL sketch "Theodoric of York," featuring Steve Martin