My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Chindi is one of the best books I have ever read – ever! It’s got everything – intrigue, mystery, action, adventure, archeology, ancient alien civilizations, space ships, and in this novel, real live aliens. It’s freakin’ awesome!
This is the third novel in the six novel series entitled The Academy series, featuring Priscilla Hutchins, or Hutch, the space ship pilot for the Science Academy. Normally, she spends her time ferrying archeologists around to various planets and participating as she can, but lately she’s been thinking of retiring. She’s had a full and distinctive career. However, she’s given one last assignment that’s hard to turn down – ferry members of the Contact Society, a bunch of alien nutjobs, out to a neutron star where a couple of radio transmissions had been discovered so they can explore. They desperately want to discover an alien race.
There are, I believe, some six members of the Contact Society along for the ride, led by George, who’s paying her salary and with whom she bumps heads from time to time. He wants to take over, but as captain of the ship, she asserts that she has final say in matters.
They get out to the star and discover a network of stealth satellites engaged in the observation of a number of worlds. This is big. They decide to try and follow the satellites to try and track down who built the network and why. This leads to new worlds. They discover one beautiful world they call Paradise and against Hutch’s wishes, land on it. The reason? They discover aliens on it, whom they call Angels because they’re beautiful people with large wings. They step out of their lander bearing gifts and are attacked and suffer two fatalities before Hutch saves them and gets them out of there. It’s sobering. Hutch wants to return, but the remainder of the group want to keep going.
They keep following the satellites and find a new world with a huge home on it. They land and find it’s deserted, but looks lived in. They discover two burial plots outside and one looks like it’s been touched recently. They call the Academy and the Academy decides to send a ship of researchers out there.
Meanwhile, while they’re out in space, they spot a rock-like monster sized space ship, an alien one, and are really excited. They call it the chindi. George wants to land on it and explore it, especially if it involves finding an alien race inside. They send radio messages to the ship, but they are ignored. Finally, against Hutch’s better judgment, they go to the ship and cut through a hatch and get inside the ship. It’s huge. Bigger than big cities. They find many rooms that are like museums showing other alien races and even movies of them. George is ecstatic and wants to stay on the ship with his crew. Hutch is worried the ship could take off into hyperspace at any time though, but George says she can come back to pick them up when it’s about to do that, so against her better judgment, she agrees. I guess she’s a bit of a pushover, when I think of it.
After a few days, Hutch’s AI tells her the chindi is about to take off and she contacts George to let them know they don’t have much time. And the ship is in the middle of something like a hurricane. She doesn’t know if she can pick them up safely. She tries, but one of them dies and another, her love interest, is trapped on the ship. She goes into hyperspace to meet the chindi at its supposed destination and beats it there. Big concern. Now there are several human ships in the system and the problem is how to get Tor, the man on board, off the ship before it goes hyper. It’s an exciting and breathtaking finish to the novel and you don’t get a break from the action at all. During this adventure, a couple of other ships that took satellites on board for Academy exploration blew up, so there were more deaths. Was it all worth it? Okay, so Hutch is a bit of a pushover, but she saves the day repeatedly and saves people’s lives in the process. She’s a great ship’s captain. And the Contact Society makes some great discoveries. This is a fantastic novel, better than the previous two, and I don’t see how the author will be able to top it in the next three, but I’m eagerly waiting to read all of them. Strongly recommended.