Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Tachyon Web

The secret lay beyond the web.


Spring break in the stars

The Tachyon Web
Christopher Pike
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.

**************
Les notes:

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!

11 comments:

Fear Street said...

I never would have understood this one as a kid...not that I understand it now or anything.

zanne said...

I agree with above. I am almost positive I never read this one. I definitely preferred the books about high school kids getting revenge against their friends (Gimme a Kiss, Fall into Darkness, etc).

jason said...

I like the last few chapters of this book a lot, because I love happy endings, but most of it is insufferably dull, and the hero's friends suck. Though part of the reason for the suckiness is that I like it a lot better when it's normal kids being put in extraordinary situations, rather than oh it's the far, far future so of course there are aliens and stuff. The only other Pike book I can remember not starring seemingly normal people is The Starlight Crystal, which I also didn't like.

Devika said...

If it wasn't for shows like "Eureka" I would have had no clue what how to even say the word "tachyon."

Laura said...

I actually read this book about 6 years ago! (and randomly found this blog while looking up Christopher Pike books because it's been that long) It was an old copy at our local library or the school library, can't wuite remember, I didn't find it confusing or boring though, actually thought it was a shame it wasn't more detailed.

Mario Camacho Lazarte said...

I read this book when I was in seventh grade back in 1996, I liked it a lot, and understood it fully i think, I really love science fiction a lot, since i was very young, although the tachyon web seemed a lot more interesting back whe I read it, now after reading this review, it appears it is not as exiting. I have to say, that many people want stories to be very attached to the facts, but I prefer the premise, "never let the facts get in the way of telling a good story", anyway, i would later find much complicated sci fi books as time master by robert forward, when i was young i always dreamed of becoming a science fiction writer my self, instead I became a lawyer, and practice criminal law in my country in Peru

Mario Camacho said...

I read this book when I was in seventh grade back in 1996, I liked it a lot, and understood it fully i think, I really love science fiction a lot, since i was very young, although the tachyon web seemed a lot more interesting back whe I read it, now after reading this review, it appears it is not as exiting. I have to say, that many people want stories to be very attached to the facts, but I prefer the premise, "never let the facts get in the way of telling a good story", anyway, i would later find much complicated sci fi books as time master by robert forward, when i was young i always dreamed of becoming a science fiction writer my self, instead I became a lawyer, and practice criminal law in my country in Peru

notemily said...

I actually did read this one as a teen, because I would read ANYTHING Pike wrote (except that kids' series). I remember the completely green eyes--I remember thinking how much those contacts must have hurt--and the name "Strem," because it was so weird, like you'd expect from a Name From The Future, but then everyone else's name was relatively normal.

I think I read this one once or twice and then forgot about it. Unlike The Starlight Crystal, which was basically my bible. (No, actually Sati was my bible, but Starlight Crystal was a close second.)

$€|v3n said...

tachyon web! When i was kid i found this book at the bookstore, i would have bought any pike book then, but this one it was different, the cover itself was different, i thought i should definitely buy this one also! It really did mess up my mind then as a kid!

Sadie Millstonson said...

Setting aside the outrageousness of it all (imagining as far into the future as casual space travel is definitely demanding on one's instinct to reason), this novel touched on a number of very human subjects. Military power and fear of the unknown.. government restrictions. Imagine, having the technology to travel anywhere through space and still having to stay within somebody elses' bounds. Also, letting an entire alien race get nearly wiped out because the human (military/government powers specifically) were afraid of sharing? Does that sound so far fetched???

There was a lot of really interesting dynamics between the two races and their leaders.. way beyond what one expects out of a Teen Sci-Fi novel.

I liked a lot more about this book but I'll leave it at that.

I'm psyched I found your blog. Even though it's been 5 years since this post... I've been reading a lot of Pike books recently. It's nice to find another fan. Who knows maybe somebody will read this in the future... woohooo!

$€|v3n said...

I really enjoyed this book as a kid, I still have it as my most prized pike book! Silver cover :D






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