The Barnes & Noble Review
Aaron Pardell is an illegal inhabitant of Thromberg Station, an overpopulated space station made even larger by the hundreds of unauthorized ships docked to it. The people living in these deteriorating ships are called Outsiders. But it's not where he lives that makes Aaron feel like an outsider, it's his strange ailment. Physical contact not only brings intense pain to Aaron and throws him into shock, but whoever touches him feels that pain as well.
When a ship from Earth docks at the station, the first in centuries, and strange "Earthers" start looking around for him, Aaron tries to hide with the help of his huge Outsider friend Malley. When the Earthers -- led by Dr. Gail Smith -- finally track Aaron down, the action explodes! It seems that Aaron's illness is directly tied to the secret behind how a strange alien race known as the Quill invaded and took control of dozens of terraformed planets almost ready for human colonization.
Another wonderfully wild science fiction blockbuster from Julie E. Czerneda, In the Company of Others is Grade A science fiction. (Paul Goat Allen)
Scientist Gail Smith is on a quest to seek and destroy the Quill and to start up the terraforming projects again. When she finds Aaron Pardell, it starts a riot on the station. Aaron is hurt in the riot because of his gift from the Quill. It forces his best friend, Malloy, to join up with Smith, leading to a series of ups and downs, twists and turns in the story. This story surprised me so many times that I lost count. It did not turn out the way I expected. If you have a good mind for puzzles and a sense of action, this is the book for you! It is one of my most favorite books and only a few can compare. Good reading! VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, DAW, 562p, $6.99 pb. Ages 12 to Adult. Reviewer: Kelsey Sands, Teen Reviewer SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
Space-faring humans have expanded into the galaxy, and while they have found great beauty and adventure, they have found no trace of any other civilization. To ease the crowded mass of Earth, they begin to terraform planets for colonies, working in three teams of experts to investigate, alter and then seed to create fresh new wildernesses to inhabit. The first colonists go out, settle in and then suddenly die for no visible reason. Fear of an alien contagion abruptly shuts doors on the colonists and crews in transit. Twenty years pass in this degenerating stalemate and only one brilliant scientist, Gail Smith, feels she has an answer. She has cast suspicion on the Quill, a tiny rainbow ribbon of an alien "pet" that the first teams were wearing on their wrists and had left behind when they left for the next world. Having mutated in the new environment, the Quill are now perfectly camouflaged and empathetically echo the humans to such a degree that it's overwhelmingly fatal. Professor Smith plans to find a rumored survivor of the Quill Effect. Her hope is that by using him and an untainted sample of the Quill, she can break the Effect, freeing humans to move into space again. Adding urgency to her experiments is her growing affection for Aaron Pardell, the survivora man who goes catatonic at the slightest touch while the person who has touched him suffers debilitating pain. Gail, Aaron and all of humanity battle rising hopes, fears, and time as they are literally so close and yet so lethally far from what they desire. There are fat paragraphs describing evolved social life and customs on the station with its attached ships. There is love in various forms, also described in greatdetail but interesting in concept, as well as a happy ending, which is always a good thing. KLIATT Codes: SARecommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, DAW, 565p., $6.99. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Liz LaValley; Mattapoisett, MA , September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)