The problem of separating the friends from the enemies was a major one in the conquest of space as many a dead spacer could have testified. A tough job when you could see an alien and judge appearances; far tougher when they were only whispers on the wind.
d in a feline face.
It was a cave cat, like the ones that had killed Johnny.
Realization was a wrenching shock and a terrible disillusionment. Johnny was not waiting for him--not alive--
He brought up the blaster, the dream-like state gone. The paw of the cave cat flashed out and struck the ship's master light switch with a movement faster than his own. The room was instantly, totally, dark.
He fired and pale blue fire lanced across the room, to reveal that the cave cat was gone. He fired again, quickly and immediately in front of him. The pale beam revealed only the ripped metal floor.
"I am not where you think."
The words spoke clearly in his mind but there was no directional source. He held his breath, listening for the whisper of padded feet as the cave cat flashed in for the kill, and made a swift analysis of the situation.
The cave cat was telepathic and highly intelligent and had been on the ship all the time. It and the others had wanted the sh
A thoughtful story about communication. The Earth's plan to make contact with the natives new planets is going terribly wrong. Suspicion, fear, and misunderstanding by the natives are getting the exploring teams killed before communication can be set up--it's taking far too long to learn the natives' languages.
Paul, the sole survivor of his mission, finds the pattern starting again--the native he was learning from suddenly takes sick and Paul is blamed.
Both Paul and the Varn are well-drawn characters. The plotting is tight with a couple of twists at the end.
Two men (twins) making snap judgements on the basis of appearance and ability, could cost the human race its greatest ally in its quest to find and befriend intelligent alien life.
"Communication Breakdown, It's always the same,
I'm having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane!"
Powerful ships with twins (they get along better?) have been dispatched to alien planets to make contact, but they are getting picked off one by one because of difficulty in communication which leads to the natives reacting with hostility.
Paul Jameison is depressed after losing his twin Johnny to a catlike race called the Varn and he's now trying to communicate with a new race called the Throon.
It's not going well, he's depressed because of the loss of his brother, and because the whole program is actually going in the crapper. Every contact with native species leads to misunderstanding and conflict. Reports from the program director are also depressing as more and more crews are losing their lives for the same reason.
He is working on the Throon when he gets the creepy feeling someone is watching him.....
Is it the ghost of his brother? Or something else? The feeling leads him to question his own sanity.
What/who he finds in the dark corners of his spaceship leads to a solution of a sorts to all kinds of communication problems.
Comment; this is a pretty interesting plot but the ending is seriously truncated. Worth a read, however.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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