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Chaining the Lady
The CLUSTER series of SF adventures is set in a future focused on colonization of distant planets. Sphere Sol is about 100 light years in diameter, centered on the Earth’s sun. Surrounding this sphere are other, similar spheres each centered on another star such as Polaris or Canopus. Colonization is accomplished by: instantaneous teleportation, called matter transmission or mattermission (very expensive); “freezer” ships in which colonists are sent in cryonic preservation at very high speeds (much decay and average 50% loss of colonists occurs during the voyages) and lifeships, slower, safer multigenerational vessels with voyages that run to centuries (during which the travelers regress in technical sophistication.) Because of the difficulty of colonization and the smaller population bases, all spheres suffer spherical regression--the greater the distance from source star to colony, the lower the level of technology that survives. Social organizations regress backward to historical periods of the home planet's past. Outworld, Sphere Sol's farthest colony, is populated by paleolithic tribes who hunt with flint spears and make fire. Colonists know about the interstellar empire and the home worlds mattermit government and security personnel to all colony worlds. Every living thing has a Kirlian aura that can be measured. Through transfer, a refinement of mattermission technology, the mind and personality of individuals with high aura can be sent to animate a body physically distant but a hosted aura fades at the rate of about 1 unit per Earth day and higher-Kirlian individuals last longer and thus have more freedom of movement. The first three novels in the sequence, CLUSTER, CHAINING THE LADY and KIRLIAN QUEST form a linked trilogy. THOUSANDSTAR and VISCOUS CIRCLE came later and take place in the time sequence between the second and third volumes of the original trilogy. CHAINING THE LADY is the second CLUSTER book. Melody, a product of Flint and the Andromedan’s mating in CLUSTER, must save the Milky Way Galaxy and create a place where creatures can transfer without limitations. Melody must survive in worlds unknown and alien to her and she does that where others fail when her aura augments her skills and abilities. The book opens with the discovery that Andromeda, the enemy galaxy of the first novel, has discovered the secret of involuntary hosting: a Kirlian aura that is sufficiently stronger than that of an individual can take possession of that individual. Andromeda has secretly infiltrated the highest levels of government in Sphere Sol and its allies and resurrect its plot to steal the energy of the Milky Way. Melody of Mintaka, a direct descendant of Flint of Outworld and his Andromedan nemesis, has a Kirlian aura of well over 200. She is pressed into service to "possess" and interrogate a captured Andromedan transferee. Melody, hosted in the young and beautiful body of Yael of Dragon, must, like her progenitor Flint, find a way to defeat the Andromedan threat and save the galaxy. The mysterious Ancients are present again in the form of their artifacts and sites. The themes of Tarot and of various myths of Sphere Sol (in this case that of Perseus and Andromeda) play a big part this novel. The InterSphere fleet of starships has forms analogous to the Tarot suits of Disks, Cups, Wands and Swords.