The crew of Pegasus finds a shortcut that could bring them to Earth centuries ahead of schedule; a StarLock, an ancient Commonwealth device capable of transporting ships thousands of light years in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, shortcuts will sometimes take you through some very bad neighborhoods. Phil Redfire and Eliza Change use the StarLock to investigate a nearby planet, and are trapped when their Aves crashes into its icy surface. Meanwhile, Matthew Driver and Trajan Lear take an Aves to another StarLock, and return with bizarre, dream-like, half-remembered tales of peril and weirdness that will haunt the rest of their days. Pegasus proceeds to the colony of Aurora, which somehow escaped devastation when the Tarmigans rampaged through the sector. Of all the worlds they have encountered, Aurora is by far the most decadent, a world where industrial combines sell sex and violence. Aurora’s role during the Tarmigan Assault is a deadly secret buried in its history. Also, Goneril Lear tries to strike an alliance with a dangerous and manipulative woman called "Auntie Maim," a miscalculation that nearly leads to Global Thermonuclear War.
Aurora is the eighth planet in a trinary system of three stars, eighteen planets, and two asteroid belts. The intense stellar activity coupled with its powerful magnetosphere creates auroras that fill the planet’s entire atmosphere. The planet has two moons. The planet also exhibits bi-axial rotation, rotating on both a north-south and an east-west axis. The planet has one large and two smaller continental landmasses and two large oceans. The planet required extensive terra-forming to make it suitable for human inhabitation.
Trivia and Obscure References
- The StarLock idea is similar to the SuperGate in Stargate SG-1, but I Book 5 was written two years before the appearance of the Supergate, and the concept has a long pedigree in science fiction
- Specialist Brainiacsdaughter’s name is a reference to the song “Brainiac’s Daughter” by theDukes of Stratosphear.
- Book 5 refers to a giant spaceship made of ice called the Habakkuk, Project Habakkuk was the codename for a World War II project to build aircraft carriers out of icebergs.
- Book 5 contains a line “MARRS Needs Women,” echoing the classic B-Movie, Mars Needs Women.
- In Book 5, the planet Aurora is dominated by giant corporations who feed the public a steady stream of sex and violence, similar to the American Flagg, comic book series. The character of Queequeg is similar, in the sense of being a talking cat, to the character of Raul from American Flagg.
- Book 5 also contains multiple references to the Book of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible, including the Aeropagus (Areopagus) Hotel, the town of Fair Havens, and the Unknown Pleasures channel (a reference to the Temple of Unknown Gods).
- Book 5 also riffs on elements from James Bond movies, including the supervillain who wants to take over the world (Auntie Maim), with a secret underground lair, and the use of colorfully named female characters: Lovejoy and Killjoy, the Calendar Girls.
- Auntie Maim herself bears a passing resemblance to Martha Stewart.
- The MegaWeapon in book 5 is a reference to the MegaWeapon in the MST3K movie, Warrior of the Lost World.
- In Book 5, five teenage members of the crew, accompanied by an animal, explore an abandoned spaceyard and are chased by a glowing ghost, similar to every plot from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
- Supah al-Fareek is a play on the Rick James song “Super Freak.”
- Dead Keeler mentions a colony where “the women had a weird fetish about taking a crap on your chest…,” a reference to Not Another Teen Movie.
- In Book 5, we are introduced to the Men from MARRS and the Women from VENIS, a reference to the book, Men are from MARS, Women are from VENUS.