Beyond the Sun
Roots: There are references to Blake's Tyger, Tyger, Howard Carter, "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper", "We Are Family", "Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves", "I Will Survive", Eartha Kitt and Catwoman, Bonnie and Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Toblerone.
Dialogue Triumphs: "Where there is authority there is no freedom."
"Since we had sex I feel as if I am standing in a room full of people when I am alone with you."
Continuity: Ursu is in the V15 System and was purchased by the Ursu Group before the Galactic War. The Ursu Group included the Piercy Corporation, which stole the Blooms from the Sunless homeworld and transplanted them to Ursu. The system is located midway between Apollox 4 and Dellah. The large desert world of Ursu is a prohibited world. The Ursulan family unit comprises eight individuals (an "Eight"), all grown from large living clam-like cloning machines known as the Blooms. The Ursu Group created the society on Ursu using the Blooms, since they desired to create a world free of profit and greed, where everyone could be truly free. There are eight species on Ursu, including Oolians, Jeillos, Saurians, and humans. Scott's "Eight" actually contained ten children, with Scott and Michael both having mixed ancestry: Scott is part human, part Saurian. The Blooms are enormous non-sentient silicon based lifeforms kept in pools of the oxygen-rich liquid that they produce. The Ursulans use airships. Anarray is a town on Ursu. The Ursulans celebrate their Bloomday. Ursulans can't have children with each other, but the males at least can fertilise females from other world giving them a chance of survival after the Blooms are removed. Bernice suggests sending a message to Earth asking for aid in driving the Sunless off Ursu.
The Sunless are ashen-skinned humanoids with gaunt faces and dull grey eyes. They have several rows of tiny, sharp, pointed teeth. Their blood is dark red. Their home planet is cold and covered in barren rocky deserts of ice and stone. It orbits a red giant and has rarefied atmosphere. The Sunless live below ground. The Sunless are apparently either the descendants of the species that created the Blooms or servants of that species intended to tend the Blooms. They created spaceships by copying the technology from a Piercy Corporation ship left on their homeworld. Their homeworld was plundered by various corporations before the Galactic War; now that they are strong enough they are reclaiming what was stolen, including the Blooms on Ursu and the two small crystal figurines that are supposedly the keys to the device of which the Blooms are a part. In fact, the statues are merely representations of the visionaries, the two extra members of Scott's Eight generated by the Blooms for this purpose; any of the ten will do. Iranda and Nikolas are forced to serve as the visionaries, turning into crystal statues in the process and activating the device, which is actually a stellar manipulator designed to rejuvenate the Sunless' homeworld's sun, making their world properly habitable again.
Bernice dons a blue sequined dress, powdered wig and padded bust to pose as a singer as a disguise on Ursu. She later shaves her head to disguise herself as a Sunless. She realises that she still loves Jason. They consider starting to date again.
It isn't explained how Jason managed to travel nearly six hundred years through time to 2593. He and Bernice have sex almost as soon as they meet up again. He attended her graduation ceremony whilst they were still married. The Urusulan Iranda met Jason on Denaria 7; they apparently had sex during their brief acquaintance. She handed him over to the Sunless shortly after he gave the visionary to Bernice: they keep him prisoner until Bernice finds him again. Like Benny, Jason shaves his head to disguise himself as a Sunless. Jason spent some time living rough around Piccadilly after he ran away from home.
Emile Mars-Smith is fifteen years old and gay. He has never been close to his father, a fact that has become more pronounced since his mother died. He is a vegetarian. He has been at St. Oscar's for a week. Tameka Vito is also in his year and started at the same time. They both have Krytell scholarships. They are both in Bernice's tutor group. Emile's family follow the Natural Path religion. Because Emile and Tameka miss the first field trip of the year, Bernice is instructed to take them on a special trip to Apollox 4. Emile kills a Sunless with an iron bar on Ursu. Both Emile and Tameka have sex with Scott; Tameka gets pregnant as a result.
Vilmurians are crocodilians with sharp yellow teeth and long snouts. Either the Vilmurians or the Vendurians eat their enemies. Jeillos are humanoids with indigo skin. The Apolloxians are small grey-speckled reptilian creatures with three fingered hands and snouts.
Professor S'Cat holds the Chair of Coprolite Studies at St. Oscar's [oh, very funny].
Links: Jason last appeared in Eternity Weeps. The Oolians were previously mentioned in Human Nature (book) and Original Sin. The Cat's Paw is again mentioned (Oh No It Isn't!, Dragon's Wrath). Bernice recalls being on Youkali with Jason (Return of the Living Dad) and notes that she spent the seventies in a punk band (No Future). There are references to Urnst and Sakkrat (The Highest Science), Chelonians (The Highest Science, Zamper, The Well-Mannered War), and Grel (Oh No It Isn't!).
Location: Apollox 4, Ursu, and the Sunless homeworld, c2593.
Future History: Franz Kryptosa was an explorer who vanished in c2493.
The Chelonian slave camp on Apollox 4 was discovered c2573.
Kwik Kurry and McSwine are fast food restaurant chains. Bubblejack is an intoxicating drink. Demona is a twenty-sixth century comic heroine. Comrade 7 is a fictional female heroine. Other fictional heroes mentioned here include Mr. Misnomer the Man of Chrome, Atoma, and Go-Go Girl (alias Maggie Chascarrillo). Vampire Chic is a new fashion in 2593. Trans-System has jurisdiction across much of the sector.
The Butler Project is a massive attempt to collate and index the records of the companies that went bust during the Galactic War, including the Piercy Corporation, a small outfit that specialised in deep-space exploration. Krytell is one the biggest corporations in Dellah's sector.
Unrecorded Adventures: Bernice has visited Apollox 4 before.
The Bottom Line: "Take it from me: ancient artifacts do not possess mystical powers; centuries-dead civilisations do not leave super-weapons lying dormant for others to stumble across." An engaging and interesting exercise in world-building, with both the Ursulans and the Sunless proving, in their own ways, rather interesting. The twist that sees Jones subverting the predicted ancient super weapon cliché is great. Emile in particular makes a great addition to the cast - is he based on the author's own experiences? Oh and Jason's back - hoorah!