Like the original Star Trek series, the Daedalus is on a multi-year mission to visit remote planets and check on previous colonization attempts. But the intricate plots and scientific detail go far beyond anything in Star Trek. Each planet visited has a unique ecosystem and evolutionary history which Stableford (a biologist himself) brings vividly to life. Alternate evolutionary paths provide fascinating turning-points for plots, and the problems encountered by the Daedalus's crew make exciting stories.
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The planet called Dendra seemed too good to be true: one vast forest world, marvelous climate, few dangerous beasts, a balanced hospitable ecology -- all should have speed out a good place for a human colony.