cover image Starshield: Sentinels

Starshield: Sentinels

Margaret Weis. Del Rey Books, $24 (421pp) ISBN 978-0-345-39760-7

The veteran SF team of Weis and Hickman (the Dragonlance and Deathgate series) plunges into a new universe with this soap operatic tale of a galactic chase. Exactly 3256 years after a family row sent supreme god Kendis-dai ""into mortality"" after losing his sister-lover Shuana-kir, ""Omnet sifter"" Merinda Neskat loses her own lover, Queekat Shn'dar. Even grimmer, Omnet, the governing intergalactic organ of information dissemination, is threatened by the revolt of its synthetic minds--the faster-than-human components that run every aspect of the automated universe, from computers to household appliances. To save Omnet, the grief-ridden Merinda must recover an ancient artifact, the Mantle of Kendis-dai, symbol of the lost Kendis civilization and key to a secret wisdom that could save civilization or disrupt it forever. After searching for eight years, Merinda meets the remnants of Earth's first mission beyond its solar system. Led by the inept Jeremy Griffiths, the bumbling Earth team helps Merinda defeat the evil forces lurking both inside and outside her own shaky, heartbroken psyche. Ludicrous dialogue (""Get out of my sight!... You are a black hole in my existence"") and particularly cheesy characterizations spoil this introduction to a potentially intriguing universe where ""quantum weather"" disrupts the laws of physics and allows magic to intersperse with science. In addition, the mythical, far-future and contemporary Earthling plot lines lack convincing linkages, boding ill for future volumes in this series. $150,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.)