Pock's World (2010) is a standalone SF novel. It is set on the planets Ayne and Pock's World in the Ayne Sector. Both world were settled via Stellar Transport and Research Section entanglement portals. Settlers were genetically modified for adaptation to local conditions.
When the genetic changes exceed approved limits, STARS declares these modifications to be a Dialleon abomination. Such outbreaks are usually removed by sterilizing the planet with asteroids dropped from orbit.
Pock's World had originally been a part of the Canaster Sector, settled from Malacostraca. The records show that an interstellar dust cloud had broken the entanglement link. Rumors say that Malacostraca had been sterilized by STARS.
In this novel, Andre is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He had been Father Jame Mangold before becoming a Franciscan monk.
Ratty Turnsole is a professional reporter.
Anna Fimble is a Senator on the planet of Ayne.
Millie Backet is a bureaucrat, Director of Health and Population Studies for the Sector Council.
Linn Lazuline is the richest man in the Ayne Sector.
Joy is an incarnation of the Mother, the triple goddess of Pock's World.
In this story, STARS, Inc., has quarantined Pock's World. Brother Andre had spent 500 days on the planet fifty years before. The new Pope asks Brother Andre to visit Pock's World and review evidence of a Dialleon abomination.
Brother Andre agrees, but isn't sure that STARS will accept evidence to the contrary. STARS contacts him about transportation to the spaceport and he insists on a thirty minute delay on the pickup. Andre spends the time in prayer.
Athena is meeting with potential supporters for a presidential bid. After the meeting, Linn calls her and pledges twenty million if she will go to bed with him. She thinks about it for a short while and then declines.
Shortly thereafter, Athena is invited to join the delegation going to Pock's World. She accepts this offer. The next morning, an aircar comes to transport her to the spaceport.
Athena finds Brother Andre, Ratty and Millie already there. Each is called to a med station for a gene changing tonic and then allowed to board a shuttle. The trip to Ayne 3 takes approximately twenty-three minutes.
On Ayne 3, they are met by Linn, but no attendants are on the station. They then travel by entanglement to Climatal and Pyrus. The Climatal station is also unpopulated, but they are welcomed by an STARS employee at Pyrus. They find that a huge storm makes it temporarily impossible to take a shuttle down to Pock's World.
The language on Pock's is very different from any spoken elsewhere in the Ayne Sector. They are provided with mechanical translators. After a break in the storm, they take a lifeboat to the surface.
The lifeboat sets down in Eastern Landing because of the storm. They run through pounding rain to shelter. They find themselves in a large bare room.
They are welcomed and then taken in an animal-drawn wagon to an inn and fed a meal. Brother Andre advises them to taste everything, but not to ask about its origins until later. Ratty insists on asking what talion is made from and then doesn't want to taste it.
Then a government representative greets them. He recognizes Ratty from his works. He tells them that their arrival point was unexpected and that officials are coming to Eastern Landing.
Then Joy appears with an escort and meets Ratty. They get to talking and Ratty flies off with Joy on an insectile looking flying machine. He doesn't bother telling anyone else in the party where he is going.
This tale presents the party with a puzzle. An interstellar probe has come from Malacostraca with genetic deviants aboard. One mutant has been captured by the authorities. STARS has already decided to sterilize the planet.
If this reminds you of Slan, you would be partly correct. Yet this story is a morality tale, asking how much change is allowable. You might also want to look at Falling Free and Crown of Slaves.
Recommended for Duncan fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of foreign cultures, genetic mutants, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin