Humans are caught up in an alien war in this epic from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Trek Into Darkness.
For millennia, the Weave, an alliance of species, have fought to resist the telepathic Amplitur, who strive to unite all self-aware life-forms in their great “Purpose.” The Weave is slowly losing ground, but for both sides, warfare focuses more on outthinking and outmaneuvering your foe than destruction. In fact, most regard violence as hideously barbaric, and even the thought of harming another sentient being is beyond imagining.
Then they come to Earth . . .
A Call to Arms
When one of its scout ships lands on Earth, the Weave quickly realizes that humanity’s almost innate ability to wreak havoc and death may hold the key to turning the tide in their fight. Unfortunately for all, the Amplitur have the same idea—and mankind is caught in the middle.
The False Mirror
When the Amplitur unleash an elite cadre of fighters, it soon becomes clear that they have subjected their human prisoners to horrific genetic manipulation. But if the Weave attempts to undo the effects, they may change the former warriors into something far, far worse.
The Spoils of War
With mankind’s help, the Weave is finally on the verge of victory against the Amplitur. Until an alien scholar uncovers a terrifying truth: Earthlings might not even be capable of being civilized—and a shadowy group of powerful humans is already poised to unleash war across the entire galaxy.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Alan Dean Foster including rare images from the author’s collection.
About the Author
The New York Times–bestselling author of more than one hundred ten books, Alan Dean Foster is one of the most prominent writers of modern science fiction. Born in New York City in 1946, he studied filmmaking at UCLA, but first found success in 1968 when a horror magazine published one of his short stories. In 1972 he wrote his first novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, the first in his Pip and Flinx series featuring the Humanx Commonwealth, a universe he has explored in more than twenty-five books. He also created the Spellsinger series, numerous film novelizations, and the story for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. An avid world traveler, he lives with his family in Prescott, Arizona.
Read an Excerpt
The Damned Trilogy
A Call to Arms, The False Mirror, and The Spoils of War
By Alan Dean Foster
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1993 Alan Dean Foster
All rights reserved.
One-who-Decides lay back on the sickle and relaxed, the curved command lounge suspended high above the floor at the end of its powerful, flexible armature. At a touch it would drift higher or lower, left or right so that the Amplitur could inspect, interview, check on, or give advice to those under its command. It could do the same by means of the communications hook clamped snugly across its head, but it believed strongly in the personal touch.
It lay comfortably on the supportive cushion, straddling it with four short, stumpy legs. This arrangement allowed free movement of the two tentacles that protruded from either side of the head. Each ended in four manipulating digits that rippled and flexed lazily as though conducting an unseen orchestra in a silent waltz.
The globular gold-flecked eyes scanned the vast chamber, the slitted pupils expanding and contracting as they focused on specific sectors, seeking positions where efficiency could be improved. When making such suggestions One-who-Decides spoke always encouragingly, never with the brusqueness that characterized other races. The Amplitur had never been harsh. Once, they had been hesitant, but that was all before the Purpose. Before maturity.
Hard to believe there had been a time before the Purpose. One-who-Decides knew it was so because of history. The very idea was alien, an unbelievable fragment of another time and universe. It was realization of the Purpose that had matured and forever altered the Amplitur.
Now it was changing the galaxy.
Prior to realizing the Purpose, the Amplitur had been content to refine their modest civilization: excelling at certain arts, mastering intricacies peculiar to their species, wishing only to be left in peace to develop at their own pace, desiring only to be themselves. Then had come realization of the Purpose.
One-who-Decides gently nudged a control and the sickle swung left and down toward Navigation. How could the Amplitur have existed prior to the Purpose? Baffling!
Early evolution had been entirely instinct-driven. Amplitur lying quietly in the warm waters of the homeworld, barely able to hunch about on muddy shorelines on as yet undeveloped legs as their sensitive tentacles probed the mud for crustaceans and edible bivalves. Amplitur in which intelligence was still a flickering spark, reproducing through mindless budding, creating offshoots of themselves as they converted vegetable matter and animal protein into energy by means of clever intestines and horny mouthparts.
That much it could comprehend. What was difficult to imagine was the Amplitur civilization that had existed prior to the Purpose. It was there for any to examine: in the histories, in the ruins and records of past triumphs, in the steady march of the unique Amplitur technology.
All meant nothing: technology, art, even life itself was meaningless without the Purpose to give form and substance.
Merely pondering it was enough to bestow strength and confidence on the uncertain. One-who-Decides was honored to be an Amplitur in its service.
Crew and ship hummed softly beneath the hovering sickle and its questing passenger. Technicians chatted in their multitudinous languages, exchanging gestures and humor. The latter was a concept the Amplitur struggled hard to understand. That they could comprehend that which they did not themselves possess was a tribute to their perseverance.
Not that it mattered. What mattered was that they all served the Purpose. It was the hallmark of civilization.
Of course, there had been one or two species blind to the Purpose. History told of them as remorselessly as it spoke of advancement. Races who could not be convinced or biologically altered or otherwise persuaded of the truth. The relentlessly hostile and unremittingly insane. Nothing for them but the most reluctant elimination lest they stall the expansion of truth.
This the Amplitur regretted most of all. Not so much because they found the obliteration of an entire species inherently wrong, but because once gone a people could never be integrated into the Purpose. It was a step they had been forced to take only twice in thousands of years. Memory of those isolated catastrophes served to prod the Amplitur and their allies to ever greater efforts.
One-who-Decides was determined that it would never preside over such a failure. Those ancient Deciders had done what was necessary, but the stigma of failure still clung to their bud-lines.
The Amplitur had come far since those times. Many new peoples had joined with them to advance the Purpose, and general knowledge and science had expanded accordingly. Other races contributed mightily to expansion, providing new ways of thinking, new approaches to old problems, each adding its own special abilities to the service of the Purpose.
In this the Amplitur viewed themselves as no better than any other race. All were equal beneath the Purpose. As its discoverers, however, they knew that certain responsibilities accrued to them. These they had not sought and would gladly have surrendered, if a new species capable of assuming the burden had appeared. In the absence of such, the Amplitur continued to serve.
Someone had to make decisions, One-who-Decides knew.
Other peoples contributed in different ways. The Crigolit were fine soldiers who bore the brunt of fighting when that could not be avoided. The Segunians were skillful manufacturers. Multitudes of active T'returi fed many more peoples than themselves. The Molitar, physiologically similar to the Amplitur, supplied brute force and an overawing appearance whenever that was deemed useful. Sometimes an impressive demonstration was enough to convince the recalcitrant to alter their ways.
It was also cost-effective. Combat was wasteful and time- consuming. A life lost in battle was a mind lost to the Purpose.
No reason for such solemnity, One-who-Decides thought. All was going well. Not long ago another intelligence had been brought into the Purpose. Physically powerful but technologically primitive, the Ashregan had resisted only briefly in the face of a technology so far in advance of theirs that they could barely begin to comprehend it. When contacted they were less developed than the Crigolit, more so than the Molitar, and as helpful as any.
Unlike some other peoples, they had wisely chosen not to fight when fighting would have been futile. They had demonstrated unexpected maturity by immediately opening themselves to the beauty and wonder of the Purpose.
That was the inevitable decision of any truly civilized people, One-who-Decides knew as the sickle swung from Navigation toward Internal Engineering. Seeing their commander approach, the staff at that position busied themselves. Their reaction pleased it.
The Commander could not have smiled had it wished to, for its mouthparts were not well designed for expression. Light flashed off its mottled orange skin, the gold and silver streaks which identified individual Amplitur highlighting its torso and head.
The entire wall opposite Engineering was transparent: a concession to aesthetics. Screens and long-range detectors were much more useful for locating objects outside the vessel. The transparency was a testament to Amplitur-allied manufacturing techniques. Within certain physical limits they had achieved perfection, of which the wall was one demonstration.
One-who-Decides studied the streaking stars, the staff responsible for safely convoying a craft full of living organisms between them, and abruptly nudged a control. The sickle shot upward. Many Amplitur were afraid of heights, but not One-who-Decides. It was a thing which could be conquered. One responsible for the safety of many ships could not be dominated by psychological weakness.
It had been driven out through introspection and sheer determination, the kind of determination which had raised One-who-Decides to commander. Modest gratification for much hard work.
It was only a matter of having confidence in the supportive technology, in the padded sickle and the woven fiber armature and the motors that enabled it to move freely above the command center. Not everyone could do it, One-who-Decides knew. Slitted eyes regarded the efficient bustle below the hovering perch.
A dozen different races worked side by side in the Command room while others executed vital functions elsewhere on the ship. None felt superior to its neighbor. Tiny Acaria assisted massive Molitar. Spindly Segunians made way graciously for fluid Ashregan. All were united by the Purpose. All save perhaps a few degenerate individuals, for there were individual exceptions in every species. The crew was a tight unit, their thoughts and actions devoted to a single end.
That was all the Purpose was. An end. There was nothing exotic about it, nothing even a simpleminded Vandir could fail to understand. The Purpose was integration: utter and complete physical, cultural, and mental integration.
When a race reached a certain level of technological and sociological sophistication, it either self-destructed or began a long slide leading to complete cultural degeneration. Voices of promise that might have contributed to a great multiracial civilization vanished in mindless orgies of barbaric self-indulgence or atomic immolation. They were forever lost to the Purpose.
When that happened the Amplitur sorrowed, and their allies in the Purpose sorrowed with them. On such occasions something distinct and unique went out of the cosmos, never to be shared or enjoyed by others.
Once, the Amplitur had actually intervened in a desperate attempt to save a psychotic race from itself, so great was its promise. Such had been the fury, the blind hopelessness, and the depth of self-loathing to which that people had sunk that not even the Amplitur with their peculiar abilities had been able to forestall the cataclysm. In spite of all that could be done, the species perished, destroying itself utterly and rendering its exquisite planet uninhabitable.
One-who-Decides raised the front part of its body, aware that the eight tips of its tentacles had been clenched almost painfully during its thoughts. This was an improper time for such musings. There was work of Purpose to be done.
Sometimes logic and reason were not enough. On such occasions it was necessary to employ primitive but graphic methods to demonstrate new realities to the unenlightened. The Amplitur always regretted this, but not as much as they would have regretted abandoning an intelligent race to the inevitability of self-destruction. As a people, the Amplitur had dedicated their very existence to the prevention of such disasters. As long as they had the will and the strength to help, no species would fail to realize its full potential.
For this sacrifice the Amplitur did not expect even gratitude. Their sole reward lay in the knowledge that by their work they were furthering the Purpose. Merely to be Amplitur meant to be ready to sacrifice oneself.
From time to time members of other races and even the occasional Amplitur would question it all. What was the Purpose? What might be its end?
With unfailing logic it was pointed out that the Purpose was the end unto itself. When the work was done, when all had been unified, something greater would manifest itself. For now it was enough to do the work, secure in the knowledge that it was the right work to do. Reason was a wonderful thing, One-who-Decides knew.
But when would an end be made to it all? When every intelligent being in the galaxy had been integrated into the service of the Purpose, it was declared with the certitude of obviousness. And, if Amplitur science eventually succeeded in finding a way of crossing the intergalactic gulfs, when any intelligences there had also been brought into the Purpose.
One-who-Decides could not concern itself overmuch with such weighty matters. There were decisions of much more immediate import to make. Everything that happened aboard ship eventually devolved upon the Commander. It was a responsibility to be accepted with honor.
The heavy body shifted irritably on the cushion. Soon would come the time of reproduction, which could not be allowed until the present effort on behalf of the Purpose had been satisfactorily concluded. Once there had been a time when such biological functions had been dictated by simple hormonal balances. Only in the time of civilization had the Amplitur learned how to adjust their body's endocrine system ... and those of others.
One-who-Decides could not allow decision-making ability to be impaired by the exigencies of reproduction. A tentacle tip made a note to report for testing. If necessary, a pill could be taken.
Golden eyes studied the vast arc of the transparent wall, pondering the expanse of space outside the ship. Much beauty was to be found in the cascade of stars and worlds, in the iridescent wash of nebulae so like the changing gold and silver patterns that highlighted Amplitur skin. Underspace shifting diffused the shapes beyond, reducing great suns to ethereal blurs of color which only added to their loveliness. Only in the full light of the Purpose could such magnificence be truly appreciated.
One-who-Decides did not have eyes capable of making sense of what they saw. Only advanced instrumentation could do that. With a gentle exhalation the Commander turned back to the sickle's control panel.
This expedition was to be regretted.
The majority of new races readily accepted the logic of the Purpose and embraced it fully upon first encounter with Amplitur envoys. Sometimes the Amplitur's presence was not even required and allied peoples could make the presentation themselves, for the delight of the newly persuaded often exceeded that of their instructors. There were even instances when the enthusiasm of allied races had to be restrained lest they give the wrong impression to those very people they were trying to convince.
Yet there remained those times when reason and logic were not enough. On such occasions a display of the nobility of Purpose was usually sufficient to convert the recalcitrant. A small force of, say, thirty warships suddenly materializing from Underspace in orbit around an indecisive world was often enough to persuade the locals to take the requisite next step up the ladder of galactic civilization so that they, too, might bask in its glory.
Only rarely had it been necessary to use actual force. Like now. Such work the Amplitur found emotionally draining, but they could not in good conscience delegate it wholly to their friends. Their destiny compelled them to participate in such action against their own wishes.
The power arm hummed in response to a command and the sickle plunged its passenger floorward, until it hung a short distance above the highly reflective surface. A passing Ashregan officer blinked and turned in response to the gentle mental touch from One-who-Decides.
"Ship status, engineer?" One-who-Decides was not ignorant of the condition of the vessel, but it would not do for its subordinates to think that their commander spent all its time high above the floor, dreaming upon the sickle.
The Ashregan responded. An efficient species, physically strong but not particularly intelligent or imaginative. One-who-Decides thought of them as catchalls, as nonspecialists who could be relied upon to do a little of everything efficiently but nothing especially well. They made good supervisors, good integrators.
The Commander listened to the report and accepted the slight bow which passed for a sign of respect among the Ashregan peoples before dismissing the officer with a slight mental push that was simultaneously reassuring and rewarding. The ability to do that was the other thing which distinguished the Amplitur from all other intelligences. Even from the Korath, who for sheer intellectual capacity exceeded their Amplitur mentors.
Only the Amplitur possessed projective minds. Only they could convey through thinking alone their wishes, desires, and the pure beauty of the Purpose. All other races were receivers, sensitive to varying degree to Amplitur projections. Those who were naturally deficient could be biologically altered to make them more receptive, and their newfound receptivity passed on to succeeding generations. The Amplitur were deft bioengineers, and the altered races did not object to the procedure. Why should they, when it strengthened their bonds within the Purpose? Furthermore, the Amplitur could only project. They could not truly "read" the minds of their allies. There was no question of invasion of privacy, a basic need which the Amplitur themselves understood.
Talented though they were, the Amplitur had yet to find a way to alter the mind of another being to make it projective. The burden of projection therefore remained heavily and solely their province.
Excerpted from The Damned Trilogy by Alan Dean Foster. Copyright © 1993 Alan Dean Foster. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Even though it was long and sometimes I had to go back and reread, it was such a good story. Foster never disappoints
I don't normally go in for war stories, but I like Alan Dean Foster's work, so I took a chance and I'm glad I did. Although for me the story dragged a bit at times (hence 4 stars, not 5), I enjoyed it enough to read and enjoy all three books while waiting to see what would happen next. I wasn't disappointed. I still like this author's books a lot!