Sunborn (Chaos Chronciles Series #4)
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Sunborn (Chaos Chronciles Series #4)

4.1 36
by Jeffrey A. Carver

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With fully realized characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a plot inspired by chaos theory, this exciting hard SF adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

John Bandicut and several aliens and artificial intelligences have been thrown together by a force greater than themselves to prevent cataclysmic disasters on an interstellar scale. Now,


With fully realized characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a plot inspired by chaos theory, this exciting hard SF adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

John Bandicut and several aliens and artificial intelligences have been thrown together by a force greater than themselves to prevent cataclysmic disasters on an interstellar scale. Now, before they can take a break after a world-saving mission, they are pulled into a waystation that is being threatened by highly destructive gravity waves.

The waves are part of a much larger problem. Something is causing stars to become unstable and go prematurely nova—they're being murdered. When the waystation is destroyed by the gravity waves, Bandicut and his crew barely escape on a jury-rigged ship. Their destination is a star nursery in the Orion Nebula, where sentient stars are being driven to destruction by an artificial intelligence bent on remaking the cosmos in its own image.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The long-anticipated fourth entry in Carver's Chaos Chronicles (after 1996's The Infinite Sea) is space opera at its most agreeably and classically science fictional. Someone or something is plotting murder on an interstellar scale, and a small company of exiles led by human John Bandicut may be the galaxy's only chance of salvation. The prospective victims are sentient stars living in the Orion Nebula; half the challenge is simply opening communications. Luckily, Bandicut's allies and sponsors include robots, "noncorporeal symbiotes" and the incredibly ancient multidimensional entity Deeaab. With such a large cast and a parallel plot involving a threat to Earth itself, character development is necessarily sketched broadly. Some may find the narrative overly stage-managed, but Carver skillfully rotates viewpoints and weaves the choreography directly into the plot. This installment is a cut above the earlier books and will be entirely accessible to any reader who appreciates high-powered stellar and n-dimensional physics blended with old-school space-faring. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Drawn together by powerful forces, a group of aliens, artificial intelligences, and the human John Bandicut have waged a near constant war for the preservation of the universe against a series of cosmic disasters. They face their most dangerous crisis when they are pulled into a way station threatened by destructive waves of gravity. Fleeing the collapsing way station, Bandicut and his crew seek the source of the waves somewhere in the Orion Nebula, where something is destroying sentient stars. Carver's latest addition to the "Chaos Chronicles" series (Neptune Crossing; Strange Attractors; The Infinite Sea) ensures his place among the most inventive of contemporary authors of hard sf and speculative theory. Filled with startling ideas and ingenious plot twists, this sf adventure (along with its series predecessors) belongs in most sf collections.
—Jackie Cassada

From the Publisher
"Carver gives us the ultimate cosmic aliens while juggling stars and supernovas. Dazzling." —Jack McDevitt, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Seeker

"Jeffrey A. Carver is the science-fiction writer's science-fiction writer—and probably the genre's best kept secret."

—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Calculating God

"Another splendid adventure, with intriguing puzzles, first-rate problem-solving, and an impressive array of alien characters, motives, and methods."

Kirkus Reviews (pointer review) on The Infinite Sea

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Chaos Chronicles Series, #4
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.23(w) x 6.68(h) x 1.22(d)

Read an Excerpt



The company sped across the light-years for what felt like an eternity, enclosed only by a faintly glimmering force-field bubble. Behind them they had left an ocean world; ahead was the unknown. Inside the star-spanner transport, John Bandicut felt a distinct sense of time and space passing by as a physical stream—stretching ahead of them, flowing around and behind them. He watched as the stars outside the bubble streaked past against the backdrop of space.

Ik, the Hraachee’an, was the first to notice the gradual appearance of a ghostly, rose-colored nebula ahead. Soon after Ik pointed that out to the others, Bandicut observed the star field crinkling, as though someone were rippling the fabric of space like clear cellophane. A moment later a shock wave rocked the star-spanner bubble. "What—" rasp rasp "—was that?" cried Li-Jared, several of the Karellian’s words dropping out in translation.

Whatever had hit them blazed golden around them, and for a moment they all seemed to turn transparent and luminous. Bandicut could scarcely breathe.

*Entering new flight regime. Approaching interstellar waystation.*

Bandicut blinked at the words of the translator-stones embedded in his wrists. Interstellar waystation?

"Something’s changing ahead," said Ik.

Bandicut pressed his face to the front of the bubble. "I think I see it—some kind of shadow ahead, between us and the nebula."

"Hrah. It looks like a channel of some kind."

Antares pressed close behind Bandicut, her breath warm on his cheek. "How could there be such a thing in space?"

No one had an answer, but what had looked to Bandicut like a patch of shadow grew larger quickly, then abruptly wrapped around the bubble like a tunnel. Suddenly they were flying like a high-speed train through a not-quite-solid tube, which began to glow with a pale blue light.

They felt a series of soft jolts, as though the star-spanner bubble were decelerating in discrete increments. With no further warning, it glided into a platform that reminded Bandicut of a subway station on Earth. The bubble softened and vanished with a twinkle. Bandicut and the others looked at each other. "I guess we’re invited to get out," Bandicut said. His two robots went first, clambering out onto the surface and pronouncing it solid and apparently safe. Together with his companions, Bandicut followed them onto the platform. It was a strange and wonderful sensation to feel something solid beneath his feet again. /What do you think, Charlie? I mean Charlene?/ he asked silently, speaking to the quarx—presently female—in his head.

/// I think we’re about to meet someone. ///

/Oh?/ He turned. A new robot was floating toward them. Or perhaps a holo-image of a robot. It was tall and vaguely humanoid. A silver band encircled its head where eyes might have been. Small clusters of sparkling jewels floated independently along the band—apparently the robot’s eyes, moving to focus on all the members of the company at once. "My name is Jeaves," it said in a deep voice that sounded both human and familiar. They had heard that voice during their passage in the star-spanner. "Welcome to the Cloudminder Interstellar Waystation. I have been asked to serve as your host, though I am a visitor here myself. The station is largely uninhabited at this time."

"Hrah," said Ik. "Where are—?"

"I’ll explain everything once we’re inside, and do my best to make you comfortable here," Jeaves continued. "Including servicing your robots, if you like."

"Yes, we—"

"I have many questions for you, as I’m sure you do for me. But before we can enter the station proper, I must ask you all to stand by just a little longer. I believe you are familiar with the normalization procedure?"

"Of course," rumbled Ik. The others muttered agreement. On Shipworld, the vast structure outside the galaxy where the four had met, each had gone through normalization—a mysterious application of alien technology that adjusted their physiologies for local food, air, and so on. It had happened again when they’d gone to the ocean world.

/// John, I get the feeling

this isn’t going to be just a pit stop . . . ///

Bandicut missed the rest of the quarx’s words. He suddenly felt light-headed, and was enveloped in a cottony glow. He started to call out to his companions. But the glow blurred not just his vision but his thoughts and his balance. He felt himself falling, his thoughts leaking out into the light . . .


Preliminary debriefing of the newly arrived company is complete. I performed the procedure during a light trance-state induced during normalization, with the assistance of the translator-stones each member of the company carries.


The company includes representatives of four organic species, each from a different homeworld (John Bandicut, Human of Earth; Ik, Hraachee’an; Li-Jared, Karellian; and Antares, empathic Thespi Third-female). In addition, there are two robots of Earth manufacture—Napoleon and Copernicus—enhanced to the point of sentience (but not by their original makers). They seem to share a personal bond with John Bandicut. Finally, there is one noncorporeal symbiote—Charlie (or Charlene) the quarx—resident in John Bandicut’s mind.

The group came together on Shipworld, and by all accounts, distinguished themselves during the crisis brought on by the boojum incursion. (Report on boojum crisis available in Shipworld archives.) Due to urgent need, they were dispatched immediately afterward to assist with a situation on the ocean world known as Astar-Neri, in the Sagittarian arm—where they prevented a deep-sea entity known locally as the Maw of the Abyss from destroying an undersea civilization. Their discovery of the true nature of the Maw—a damaged, near-sentient stargate—is recorded separately in a detailed report.

The success of this just-completed mission owed largely to their exceptional teamwork and negotiating skills. The broad spectrum of their intelligences, empathy, courage, and problem-solving abilities make this company a formidable agent of change. Compared with other operatives who might be called into service in the Starmaker crisis, this company in my judgment offers by far the best hope for success. Plus, of course, they are here now, and available. With the instability in the Starmaker Nebula growing at an alarming rate, time appears to be critical.

All members of the group emoted a desire for extended rest and relaxation—hardly unreasonable, given their recent service. I can certainly allow them a day to rest and adjust to their new surroundings, which I have attempted to shape for their comfort. However, given the urgency of the situation, I have little choice: I must move quickly to persuade this group to join us in the Starmaker mission. The consequences of failure could redound far beyond the nebula . . .

Excerpted from Sunborn by Jeffrey A. Carver.

Copyright © 2008 by Jeffrey A. Carver.

Published in January 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

JEFFREY A. CARVER's most recent novel, Eternity's End, was a finalist for the Nebula Award. He's written more than a dozen novels, including his critically acclaimed novelization of Battlestar Galactica. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

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Sunborn (Chaos Chronciles Series #4) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Hercamus More than 1 year ago
I have read all four books in the Chaos series and have found them to be delightful reading. The series follows the adventures of a group of futuristic "Musketeers" out to save the universe only they are not really sure what it is they are supposed to do, and how they are to do it. It is well written and makes a great read!
Curyll More than 1 year ago
I love the Chaos Chronicles series, and this book is the best one yet. It's a solid story, keeping up the non-stop pace of the previous three books but never repetitive. The author took me on a wonderful ride with his remarkable imagination--I could taste and see and feel these exotic places in deep space and time, riding along with the wonderful cast of characters (human, alien, robot, solar, energy beings...) It's not just adventure, there's a winsome loveliness to some of the characters, and deepening friendships and some intriguing new characters as well. I love that our hero Bandicut isn't just a magical superhero but someone who has greatness thrust upon him and does his best, depending on his friends even as they depend on him to lead. A real gem!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Earthling John Bandicut is bone tired after being exiled from his home planet, saving his world and subsequently two others. World saving is a tiring vocation. He currently travels through interstellar space with other exiles including one residing inside his head; they are a band of aliens from all sorts of orbs. John looks forward to rest when they reach their destination, a space station in the Orion Nebula sector.

However, he and his cohorts soon learn of a pandemic conspiracy to eradicate the sentient stars residing in this part of space. Struggling with communicating with the intended victims, John and his friends put off R&R to prevent genocide at a time when his homeworld also faces a major threat.

This is a superb outer space thriller starring a misunderstood hero and his alien peers. The cast is vast so except for John none seem more than two dimensional yet those key players provide keen perspectives as point of view changes inside of the non-stop action. Jeffrey A. Carver returns to his Chaos Chronicles universe for the first in a decade with an exciting throw back science fiction thriller.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read, but you must read the first series 1 - 3 as this ia a continuation. Leaves you wondering what the next adventures will be.
piggytess More than 1 year ago
Jeffrey Carver writes with imagination, fast action, vivid imagery and fully developed characters. The Star Rigger series was throughly entertaining and the Chaos Chronicles are even better. I highly recommend both series but also recommend starting from the beginning to get the full benefit of Carver's talent. Please Mr. Carver, don't make us wait so long for #5!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Liked the story and the characters. Could not put down. Waiting for the next in the series.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Great followup to series waiting on book 5 the reeds of time,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all four of the Chaos Chronicles and loved the stories as well as the characters. I look forward to the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Chaos Chronicles was great, fun and exciting.....but Sunborn on the other hand I found very hard to get into. I found myself skipping paragraphs at times when the action changed just to keep the story going because it felt like the author was just trying to fill space and that it stopped the story dead. The Julie Stone chapters now, I found them to be more interesting then the main story line its self and I wont say too much but I did like the way that everything and everybody came full circle at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the first three books in the series interesting but this one was too far removed from humanity that relating to the characters and events was impossible. It was also too much to be asked to believe that an antogonist responsible for the destruction of stars and planets wouldn't have easily killed our heroes. I'm all for cosmic plots but at least make them somewhat believable.
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