Night Train to Rigel
by Timothy Zahn
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0765307162
Date: 15 September, 2005 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The story revolves around Frank Compton who immediately finds himself in conflict and mystery and begins trying to unravel it. Along the way he gets co-opted by the needs of other races, finds enough danger for three people, has adventures with other aliens and eventually figures everything out to the satisfaction of all involved. Frank's sort of a special agent/troubleshooter, who's gone freelance due to circumstances beyond his control. As he tries to figure things out it's unclear whether or not he's being used or targeted by his former employers. He's also got a companion who is as emotionless as Spock and sometimes as unintelligent as a rock. This puts even more onus on Frank to carry the story.
I found the book enjoyable in a throwback kind of way. I had to turn off the part of my brain which demands that everything be explained and fit into a coherent universe. I found the mystery aspect sometimes much more interesting than the science fiction and the story could probably have been re-written to take place on the Night Train to Rabat without losing too much. That being said, the pacing was well done the characters interesting, albeit in a bit of a wooden way for all but the protagonist and the aliens bizarre enough to be engaging. It was a fun read which is certainly what I look for when I pick up a book.