THE STARS IN SHROUD by Gregory Benford


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A revised version of Benford's Deeper Than the Darkness (1970). The interstellar Mongol Empire, created by the one race to emerge intact from the ancient Riot Wars, rests on a somewhat faded technology and the practice of communal quasi-Zen feedback exercises designed to maintain shared spiritual values and proper ""phase"" between the major areas of the brain. Thus fused, mankind is an easy mark for the terrible ""plague"" of agoraphobia spread by the hostile alien Quarn. Ling Sanjen, Polynesian ofkaipan (half-breed) and survivor of the Plague, is sent to a strategically located neo-Indian world in an attempt to plug the dike in that sector. In short order he finds himself subject to dislocating emotional and spiritual experiences which prove to be another aspect of the Quarn plan. The intrinsic energy of this story, which is considerable, is persistently dissipated in grandiose structural metaphors and flourishes like ""Rhandra swam beside me, a warm molecular bed of cellular wisdom. . . ."" It is not so much that Benford's conceptual ambitions outrun his storytelling abilities as that the two often seem to be grafted onto each other like half-successful organ transplants.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1978
Publisher: Berkley--dist. by Putnam