Five Star, July 2004, 25.95
Rotating above the Earth is Bengal Station, the jumping point to Earth from the colonies. Jeff Vaughn, a telepath employed by the station to scan people for contraband, is a lonely man. The only person he connects to is Tiger, a young beggar, who lies dying from an overdose of a drug called Rhapsody, a controlled substance imported from one of the colony worlds. A new religion, The Church of the Adoration of the Chosen Ones, originated on one of the colony worlds, the same world that brought in Rhapsody, is actually seeking converts on the station before they go to Earth.
Vaughan becomes suspicious when his boss finds excuses for him not to scan ships coming in from Verkerk's world. It seems something irregular, perhaps illegal, is happening on Verkerk's world and it is linked to the drug and the religion. What he discovers when the planet yields its secrets could change the course of humanity unless Vaughan finds a way to stop the aliens who are on a mission of their own.
The protagonist is a world-weary man who is semi-suicidal, unable to cope with the darkness he reads in each human's mind. The only reason he does not kill himself is that, in spite of himself, he cares about humanity and does not want the aliens to destroy the human race. Eric Brown's Bengal Station is reminiscent of Star Trek Nine with its space station relationships.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner