The secret lay beyond the web.
The Tachyon Web
1986, 211 pages
This book is a little like LaToya Jackson's music career: no one knows, remembers, or understands anything about it. I'm pretty sure I can say whatever I want and no one will be able to contradict me. There's a little blurb about it all over the web, probably from the Library Journal or something, that says this book was out of print as hell, but was requested by Pikesters for years. Ok, I'll accept that. Well, here goes:
The Tachyon Web refers to a network of satellites used to fence in the known galaxy in the far, far future. Many galaxies are linked and accessible, and earthlings regularly travel in spacecrafts between planets in a matter of minutes.
During spring break, a tradition which has survived 1000s of years into the future, and which global warming has had no effect on so WTF are we all worrying about, five teenagers decide to take a space trip to the Tau-Ceti system.
Strem enlists the help of his friends Sammy the brain and Eric the lackey, as well as his own girlfriend Jeanie, and Sammy's chick Cleo, to "borrow" his uncle's spacecraft, The Excalibur, and head for outer space.
Using their ingenuity, the kids are able to penetrate the web. Outside their own galaxy and off the radar, they run into trouble, natch, when their cooling system fails and the ship overheats. Luckily they come upon a foreign ship, which they attach to, while they devise a plan to sneak aboard and steal some cooling fluid.
Somehow, they find out what the beings aboard the ship look like and plan to disguise their appearances so they can move about without causing any suspicion. Cleo, a punk singer in a band called the Weak Pulverizers, who wears a pink plastic pantsuit with a purple spider pattern, has make-up and contact lenses that she uses in her stage performances, which she uses to give Eric and Strem greenish skin, completely green eyes, and white hair.
Sammy programs an in-ear audio receiver for each of them that will translate the aliens' native language into English and allow them to reply in the alien tongue.
The two boys enter through an airlock, and are quickly swept down a hallway by thousands of Kaulikan citizens moving toward the cafeteria. They observe the aliens, learning that they have similar eating and bathroom habits to humans. In the caf, a beautiful young alien with a broken arm catches Eric's eye. He helps her out with her lunch tray, and then sits with her during the meal period.
Her name is Vani and she works as a tree grower. Her entire world is the ship, since her home planet was destroyed when a nova killed the sun in her galaxy. A small number of people on the planet had been chosen to leave in an outdated and slow moving spaceship to try to find a new planet to inhabit. Eric knows that the Kaulikan ship is too crappy for them to ever make it to the nearest planet, even after many generations of traveling.
Eric convinces Vani to show him and Strem the engine room, so they can scope out the goods. Sammy gives the boys an update through the receiver; he tells them that The Excalibur is set to blow if it gets any hotter. Of course, women haven't changed in the interim millennia, so Jeanie and Cleo are freaking out like little girls.
Eric lures Vani away, while Strem makes plans to taser the workers in the engine room and steal their biz. Eric spends an intimate hour with Vani in the secluded orchard, until he remembers what they're there for and contacts Sammy on the receiver to see what Strem is up to. The two girls had gotten in disguise and boarded the ship to help him take the motor oil.
After falling for Vani, Eric is having second thoughts about stungunning the natives and tries to convince Strem not to do it. It's too late. And now the ship guards have been alerted. Luckily, the guards have no practice doing anything and come unarmed. Strem and the girls still manage to get captured and held hostage. Eric sneaks Vani out of her ship and onto The Excalibur, along with a supply of engine coolant that Vani is able to procure.
First Councillor Rak, the leader of the Kaulikan ship, contacts The Excalibur, saying that the prisoners have to be processed before they can be released. Suddenly, the patrol squad from Earth show up. They had been aware of The Excalibur's location the whole time! The patrolman makes an announcement that Rak is to release any Earth prisoners, or he is going to blow up their mini-guardships.
Rak calls a meeting with Eric and the head patrolman. Eric convinces the patrolman to let him share his technology with Rak and the Kaulikans, so they can have a chance to upgrade their shit and get to a planet before another nova happens and kills the rest of them. The patrolman eventually agrees.
The kicker is that Eric knows too much about the people who live outside the web, and the deal they made to get better technology. This information is highly classified. There is no way that he could ever be trusted with it back on Earth, so he is forced to stay on the Kaulikan ship, an alien there himself, FOREVER.
The rest of the earthling students are released and return to Earth in The Excalibur. At the last minute, Eric is able to have Vani deliver a note to Strem making plans to meet up in the centre of the galaxy during a future spring break.
So, probably none of us read this one as youngsters, but I was curious about it. I'm not a sci-fi novel fan; I tend to skip over made-up words and to skim over the really far-fetched stuff. So I probably missed a bit of the action.
I do like aliens though! My bedroom had an alien theme when I was a young teenager. I have an alien tattoo. Marvin the Martian, "Alien" by Atlanta Rhythm Section, Men in Black. That's my shiz, baby!
Join me this weekend for the second installment of Pop Culture Confessions, which will highlight my dorkiness with even another YA series. And it looks good that next week's post will be Scavenger Hunt. See you then!