cover image Timeweb: Book 1 of the Timeweb Chronicles

Timeweb: Book 1 of the Timeweb Chronicles

Brian Herbert, . . Five Star, $25 (553pp) ISBN 978-1-59414-216-1

Bestseller Herbert, best known for his collaborations with Kevin J. Anderson (The Machine Crusade , etc.), gets off to a shaky start in this hard SF novel, the first in a series. Thanks to free faster-than-light travel provided by mysterious sentient podships, the "Human" interstellar empire is run by the rapacious Merchant Prince Alliance. Estranged from his Merchant Prince father, paragon environmentalist Noah Watanabe leads the eco-warrior Guardians in rebuilding the ecology of MPA-exploited planets. Meanwhile, Noah's jealous twin sister schemes and seduces the MPA leader to gain power. More seriously, the shape-shifting alien Mutati plan to destroy Humans one world at a time with the planet-busting Demolio device. Leaden writing and tired stereotypes (e.g., evil aliens, ancient prophecies, sentient robots who think just like people, scheming females who use sex to get men to do what they want) make it hard to care. Hopefully, the next installment will breath some life into the story. (May)