Tor, Jun 2003, 24.95, 368 pp.
As a nearby star explodes, the Space Force evacuates humans from Hong's World. With that backdrop, Lily Gunnlod asks renowned or notorious (depending on one's perspective) pilot Harry Silver to take her to Maracanda, a planet residing amidst a neutron star and a black hole. There she hopes to rescue her husband Alan, kidnapped by religious fanatics. As the Templar tells him not to go there, Harry soon finds he is an in demand transporter when Mr. Redpath and Mr. Dietrich claim they need to go there on business too.
Dietrich and Redpath try to take command of Harry's ship The Witch of Endor, but the pilot thwarts the duo and drops them off at a remote space station. Harry helps Lily search for Alan on Maracanda, which proves difficult as this is no “normal” planet and she failed to explain that he willingly joined his “kidnappers”. Already in danger from the non-welcoming religious group, now the Berserkers arrive seeking to kill life whenever they find it and Harry is a target.
The latest Berserker tale is typical of the series and many space war novels, but the Han Solo like Harry insures a freshness so that series fans will appreciate the brisk story line. The action starts from the moment Harry takes his three passengers off of the doomed Hong's World and never lets up until the climax. Readers will enjoy Fred Saberhagen's latest saga in his Berserker Universe.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner