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The fourth landing of the Daedalus Mission confronts Alex and his companions with a colonial culture seemingly modeled on a classic Utopian dream, but all of its inhabitants are infected with a mysterious alien parasite, and they no longer seem entirely human. Are they being controlled by the parasite, or has the parasite merely enabled them to transform themselves? Can the visitors from Earth avoid infection themselves, and what will the consequences be if they cannot? For once, the risks of the contact seem potentially far greater than any possible reward - but that still leaves the visitors with the necessity of passing judgment and deciding what to do, in an exceedingly awkward situation.
Brian Stableford (1948- )
Brian Stableford is a British science fiction writer who has published more than 70 novels. Born in Shipley, Yorkshire, he graduated with a degree in biology from the University of York In 1969 before going on to do postgraduate research in biology and later psychology. In 1979 he received a Ph.D. with a doctoral thesis on "The Sociology of Science Fiction". His first published story - a collaboration with school friend Craig A. Mackintosh - was "Beyond Time's Aegis" for Science Fantasy in 1965. Much expanded, it was eventually published in book form as Firefly: A Novel of the Far Future (1994). It was with the Grainger/Hooded Swan series that Stableford began to attract serious notice in America.