got this 30-year old scifi from a great used-book shop in Sanford (Maya’s – go there!). Looked good – sharp name, cover art of a concerned looking guy looking up and to the right (into his own worrying future, perhaps) while climbing down from a small space ship. So since I was in the mood for space pilots fighting injustice (against a worrying future) I pushed it to the front of my queue.
Didn’t get that, not quite. This is the story of one Prince Nickolas, burned out from his royal duties and his uncle-the-king’s badgering. He’s just come back from months at a remote beach house, back to the primary city of his colony world, only to find things even more messed up and mismanaged before he left. His uncle is running things into the ground.
So Niki starts poking around the under-city, slowly gaining the trust of the downtrodden, righting wrongs and helping out when and where he can. And that’s great. But I was wondering, where is that space ship? Where is that worrying future?
About half-a-book later, suddenly it all comes to a head. While Niki is out riding there is a quiet little coup (I think it’s only one guy with a gun, after the guards are sent away). The old order is cleaned out and the nasty galactic empire thing will be sending in the “peacekeepers”. Niki only manages to get away with his life.
Five years later, he a gestalt pilot, the last of the experiment, actually. These are pilots bioengineered to be able to interact with their ships naturally, not through controls. The problem is that the drugs he takes to maintain this state are hopping him up and slowly killing him, so hey, the worrying future finally showed up. And Niki, transporting a young guy who needs him to break through the blockade over his own home planet, finds out that everything is not what it seems.
As a reviewer, I was getting tired of looking for that worrying future I’d been promised. I was really going to bust this one but finally, in the end, the entire first half of the book eventually made sense. I’d been thinking this was some sort of short magazine story that had been expanded into a full-length book with a version of The Little Prince welded on the front end. So I’ll go with it in its final form. Yes, it had a legitimate use of prequel. So, yes, a nice little book from long ago when scifi was longer and less sharp, and computers were things mounted to desks. If you find it, you might consider it, if only for the cover art.