cover image Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict--The First Protector

Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict--The First Protector

Fred Saberhagen, James White. Tor Books, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-84890-3

The second novel tied to the TV series conceived by the late Gene Roddenberry continues, in the distant past, the saga about the alien Taelons begun by Fred Saberhagen in 1999's Earth: Final Conflict: The Arrival. Early in the fourth century, Ma'el, the first Taelon sent to Earth, teams up with Declan, a fugitive Irish prince, after Declan rescues the alien from bandits. Along with Ma'el's ""apprentice"" Sean (who turns out to be a young woman named Sinead), the two travel the world to recruit humans who can foresee the future--a mission with possibly tremendous consequences for the inhabitants of Earth. When Declan and Sinead fall in love, their combined visionary powers move Ma'el to reveal such secrets of Taelon technology as the operation of his spaceship. After Declan is appointed First Protector, the human charged with guarding the interests of the Taelon on Earth, he and Sinead return to Ireland, where they grow old and prosper. White's historical knowledge and medical expertise at times outweigh the SF elements of the plot. The entire novel is invested, however, with the literacy, compassion and gentle humor that has always distinguished the work of this author, who died last year and was best known for his Sector General series. Notable also is the care with which White portrays Declan and Sinead, making their ability to understand future technology more plausible than is usual in time-travel scenarios. (Feb.)