Beyond the Stars: Quest for Tomorrow #4

William Shatner, Author
William Shatner, Author Eos $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-105118-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-06-105996-4
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The latest entry in Shatner's Quest for Tomorrow series opens with an explanation that this installment is set in an alternate universe, one in which hero Jim Endicott did not murder his father. To save his son from his enemies this time, Carl Endicott sends teenage Jim off on a multi-generational ship, the Outward Bound, en route to colonize a distant galaxy. Once aboard, Jim loses his cache of gold, and falls in with the ""Stone Cowboys,"" a gang of space street thugs vying for control of the colony ship. Soon, the shrewd Jim is bedding Sam, the sexiest of the Stone Cowgirls, and reluctantly dealing the psychoactive sex drug Heat. Suspicious of Heat's side effects, which cause users to turn homicidal, Jim and the Cowboys learn that Ur-Barrba, their alien drug connection,has supplied the drug to stop the Outward Bound in its mission. Jim and his buddies storm Ur-Barrba's starship, and trick its occupants into eating food laced with Heat. Afterwards, the former gang members depart the colony ship aboard Ur-Barrba's rig, which they've commandeered and renamed the Endeavour, while turning their attention toward selecting a captain and setting off on, presumably, a series of new adventures. While the first three installments of Shatner's saga centered on the evolution of humanity into a ""superbrain,"" his current offering of a more pedestrian tale with its ""just say no"" theme and gratuitous swinging space sex never quite reaches warp speed. (Feb.)
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