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Shadow Planet: Quest for Tomorrow
William Shatner
HarperCollins EOS, 321 pages

Shadow Planet: Quest for Tomorrow
William Shatner
William Shatner was born in 1931 in Montreal, Canada. In 1952, he graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Later, he took a job as an assistant manager at the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal, then joined the Canadian Repertory Theatre in Ottawa and was invited to participate in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Tamberlaine. His film debut came in 1957 with The Brothers Karamazov. In 1965, he was approached to play Captain James T. Kirk in the second Star Trek pilot.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Jim Endicott and a group of young people are leaving the colony ship Outward Bound. They fought a group of Kolumbans, a race of aliens that look like huge gorillas, and have stolen their ship. These Kolumbans were selling a drug called Heat, whose main effect is killing who ever takes it, and Jim Endicott wants to find out why the Kolumbans are producing this poisonous drug and stop them. Before he can accomplish any of this, he needs to settle things on board. Not everyone's thrilled with him being captain, and one of the loudest voices is that of Elwood, a bully with a definite psychopathic feel to his character. To quell the dissension on ship, he must not only turn this group of orphans into a competent crew, he must learn how to be a captain.

Shadow Planet is definitely not a stand-alone book. I say this first because there are many things that I may not be exactly clear on because I didn't read the other books. Sometimes I got a little lost, although William Shatner does put in enough clues that you can get what's going on. For example, on the cover it mentions that in past books, Jim has gained Omega Abilities, which I can only assume are some type of super power. There are times where Jim might be using his powers, but it might just be that he's ultra-perceptive, or has a very strong memory. There's never a time where Shatner actually points and says, "This is his power.", which is actually OK. This is because this book is so much more about a young man of sixteen or seventeen being placed in a position of ultimate responsibility. Where most people his age -- at least in our time -- are being taught to be responsible for themselves, he's being taught that he's not only in charge of, but culpable for all the actions of every single member of his crew. If his Omega Abilities were in the forefront, it might have become a crutch, something he could use to make things too easy. I don't always agree with his actions, but I can see how hard he's trying, how much he wants to do the decent thing and succeed, and that makes him a rather interesting and empathetic character. It's also interesting to see these kids take on their roles, even as some of them are forced to grow up way too quickly. This isn't to say that this is a young adult title... I think that everyone can enjoy these adventures, because everyone has gone through what these children are going through.. .although not in a "stuck in the middle of space fighting ape men" type of way.

Another aspect of Shadow Planet that I really enjoyed was the fighting and action sequences. There were several areas where I was actually worried about the outcome of the situation. Ur-Barrba, one of the Kolumbans, is a nasty creature whose crafty and violent actions force the crew to learn to work together as a team.

The politics and the culture of the Kolumbans are also interestingly portrayed. At first I had my doubts about huge orange gorillas as a viable alien race, but by the end of the book I found myself really intrigued by them.

This is the fifth book in the Quest for Tomorrow series. I feel pretty certain that it won't be the last. I think you might want to look up the other books before reading this one: Delta Search, In Alien Hands, Step into Chaos and Beyond the Stars.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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