The Stars in Shroud by Gregory Benford (1978)

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The Stars in Shroud
by Gregory Benford

Publisher:  Berkley Publishing Corporation / G. P. Putnam's Sons
Copyright:  1978

Book Club Edition

Hundreds of years in the future, Earth's interstellar empire has been threatened by the alien Quarn.  After the atomic wars the oriental races have taken control of Earth and built a space empire.  Space Captain Ling Sanjen is faced with the job of preventing the gradual Quarn takeover.

Ling is sent to Regeln, the first world on which a strange, Quarn-created disease appears.  He and his crew find the entire population of the Regeln colony demoralized and hiding in filthy, isolated warrens underground.  Ling realizes that the Quarn are responsible for the epidemic of mass psychosis affecting the survivors of Regeln and his crew.  In an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading to Earth, Ling quarantines his ship in space.  First Officer Tonji disagrees and, seeing the opportunity for personal advancement, leads the other officers in mutiny and return to Earth.

Ling is court-martialed and cashiered and retires to Earth while the disease spreads -- while Tonji becomes a general.  But as the whole empire begins to crumble under the effects of the disease, Ling is recommissioned as Empire governor of the Lekki-Jagen system, a tactically crucial solar system where the entire Empire supply fleet is kept in orbit.

On Veden, the planet of the system, Ling encounters political intrigue and is gradually drawn to a Quarn-inspired plot to destroy the remains of the Empire.  A Quarn agent tampers with Ling's religious temperament and the captain becomes the leader of the plotters, under the guise of spreading new religious enlightenment.

Only at the last moment does Ling recover his consciousness and fight, not for the Empire which has treated him badly, but for himself and for the possibility of a new life for humanity elsewhere in the galaxy.

Condition:  Used.  Hardcover.  Dust cover is lightly discolored and shows shelf wear and scuffing.  Pages may be tanning from age.  Previous owner's "Library Of" stamp is on the front endpaper.


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    • ISBN 039912229X
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