cover image A Call to Arms

A Call to Arms

Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey Books, $18.95 (341pp) ISBN 978-0-345-35855-4

Subtitled Book One of the Damned , Foster's ( Glory Lane ) latest novel never achieves credibility. The projectively telepathic race of Ampliturs has conceived of a Purpose, which will be revealed when all the sapient races of the galaxy are united. Using either logic, subversion or, reluctantly, force, they have recruited each new race they have encountered, then used mental persuasion and genetic engineering to turn those races into allies. The Weave, a coalition of peoples that do not want to be assimilated, has been fighting them for centuries when a Weave exploratory ship stumbles across the Earth. Humans are just beginning to learn to be peaceful; how will they react to a request by aliens to fight other aliens? In order to credit this scenario, readers must accept a very skewed future universe: of all the planets with intelligent life, only Earth is tectonically active, with violent weather and more than one land mass; only humans have more than one language, fight within their own species and are, for some reason, immune to the Amplitur telepathy. The writing is crisp, but cannot make up for the burden these contrivances place on the story. (Apr.)