The crew members of a disabled starship find themselves adrift in interstellar space, near the planets of Tau Ceti. There they receive an incomprehensible message from an alien civilization. Gradually, as they repair the ship, the message becomes clearer, presenting them with a crucial choice: should they return to Earth and reveal that man is not alone in the universe--or should they follow the aliens to the twin-sun system of Sirius and confront them face-to-face? The meeting takes place but, alas, as with so many middle books in a series, the author wimps out, offering an unsatisfactory and inconclusive encounter with the humanlike beings. Furthermore, many key actions have already taken place in Starfarers , to which this is a sequel, and while alluded to frequently, these events are never explained. While this book may appeal to those who enjoyed the previous installment, characters here are poorly delineated, scenes shift too rapidly and a flock of sexual interludes--one of them in zero gravity--will irritate rather than titillate the reader. (Jan ) .