There had to be a reason why that isolated human colony had been able to survive mankind’s implacable enemies. But nobody had been able to get to the quaintly named Dunroamin to find out.
If they had a secret defence, it could be the answer to a hundred planets’ prayers. And Feliz Gebrod realized as he came in for a crash landing that he’d know the secret sooner than he’d expected.
Except that what he encountered was a life-and-death riddle that had nothing to do with stellar defence. It was this: how can two mutually irreconcilable Utopias occupy the same space at the same time?
When his wallet is lifted from a one-night stand with an exotic young woman, who may be either the girl of his dreams or just a common third-world grifter and thief, this world-weary traveller decides to go against his own better judgement and that of the local authorities and pursue this alluring thief up-country into the darkest jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Here is a land where headhunters still roam, and where the natural obstacles of poisonous insects and reptiles, savage and deadly beasts, and the mortally demanding jungle itself are the least of his worries. The forces of good and evil and law and anarchy play by entire different rules in this shadowed world.
Driven by delusions of romance and the need to restore his honour, Bohannon moves in hot pursuit farther and farther up-country, into a heart of darkness almost untouched by modern civilization. And once he attains his immediate goal, he is drawn into the darkness of his own soul, as a hunt for gold proves that greed, more than love or lust, is the primal instinct. For men or women, black or white, civilized or savage, in the darkness of the jungle all shadows are primal.
It was a sultry summer day in 1981, and the 3 billion or so inhabitants of the world went about their daily routine unaware that, possibly, the fate of the human race lay in the shaking hands of one George Mercer, an insignificant and slightly neurotic employee of the New York City Department of Welfare.
For George had been informed, by an accredited emissary of the Galactic Overlords, that he had 12 hours in which to prove the people of the Earth worthy of admission into the Galactic Federation. George, and George alone, would represent all of mankind. If he failed the entire planet would be destroyed.
Was this all a nightmare of delusions dredged up by his tortured subconscious? Or a very real nightmare that would end in the Day of the Burning . . .
Unless life itself is a pathetic cosmic accident, man cannot be the only intelligence in the universe. It is unlikely that man is the highest intelligence. Compared to other planetary systems, our solar system is quite young. Its raw materials have barely been touched. If older intelligences wanted those raw materials only the primitive mind of man would stand in their way. Our so-called defences would perhaps aid the aliens more than aided us…
Ken Andrews was a research worker in electronics. He had a sensitive mind and a vivid imagination. When he has a strange experience with the radar-screen his chief said he had been overworking. His doctor explained it as hallucination, but the so-called delusion persisted. If Ken Andrews was sane his world was in danger…. If he really was in communion with an alien intelligence, could that alien intelligence be trusted? The intriguing thought behind this story is that it could be true. It could happen today or tomorrow …. It might even have happened a few minutes ago in a top-secret research station somewhere in England…