cover image Nightsword


Margaret Weis. Del Rey Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-345-39762-1

Avast, ye Earthlubbers! Weis and Hickman are launching a new star pirate voyage in their Starshield series, trying to revive characters already sagging in The Mantle of Kendis-Dai. According to their 3000-year-old myth, galactic superhero Kendis-Dai used the Nightsword, a ""selective causality device,"" to force his mystico-scientifc empire into one huge human-dominated quantum zone. Stolen first by arch-villain Lokan and now sought by a motley collection of Earth astronauts, multiracial space pirates and assorted Inquisitors led by Targ, an Oedipal misfit, the Nightsword promises infinite power to its possessor. Merinda Neskat, heroine of this neo-Trekkie saga, lurches from one purportedly fatal encounter to another, plying her wiles alternately on effete U.S. astronaut Jeremy Griffiths and hunky pirate captain Evon Flynn in a predictably eternal triangle. Though Weis and Hickman struggle to make each life-form group speak its own comical variety of English, all characterizations in this exponentially inflated comic book are equally lackluster. When Merinda for the nth time skewers the tepidly malignant Targ, the appropriate reaction is not a bang for the bucks the book costs but a whimper of relief that it's over--for the time being. Author tour. (May)