Another adventure for empathic fix-it operatives Flinx and Pip, in a series that’s been appearing sporadically since 1972 (most recently Flinx Transcendent, 2009).
Philip Lynx, the product of illegal eugenics experiments, has the ability to perceive and project emotions, as does Pip, his venomous flying-snake sidekick. While they’re enjoying a well-earned extended vacation, an alien thranx from the Commonwealth shows up to request their assistance. The cool, damp planet Largess is home to “almost seal-like” alien Larians, whose backward technology and dangerously unstable politics prevent the Commonwealth from trading freely with them or offering full membership. An unscrupulous human, it emerges, has kidnapped the daughter of a Larian bigwig and is also distributing embargoed technology and weapons. War must be prevented. Flinx and Pip, with their unique abilities, seem well-suited to locating and neutralizing the malefactor. The Larians communicate by means of “singspeak,” a language that’s sung rather than spoken, which Flinx anticipates no difficulties in learning. Once on Largess, however, Flinx discovers his empathic abilities don’t work while the Larians singspeak; only when they’re silent can he read their emotions. Worse, his Larian contact, Wiegl, may or may not be trustworthy. The investigation that subsequently unfolds will prove cozily familiar and reasonably satisfying to fans of the duo—Foster, prolific both as a novelizer (Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Transformers, Terminator, etc., etc.) and author of stand-alone novels and series, capably turns out blandly pleasing potboilers, and this one assumes no previous knowledge of the series. However, issues arise with singspeak: representing it in prose required obvious effort, and it rapidly grows tedious to read.
Nondescript entertainment, especially if you find the notion of yodeling Yodas appealing.