Cover image for Dirge
Foster, Alan Dean, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine, [2000]

Physical Description:
310 pages ; 24 cm.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.6 18.0 44549.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Science Fiction/Fantasy
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In the second half of the 24th-century, diplomatic relations proceed cautiously between thranx and humans, who are slow to overcome their aversion to the insect-like beings. But the thranx are nearly forgotten with the sudden discovery of an ideal planet to colonize and the appearance of a new race of space-faring aliens.

Author Notes

Bestselling science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946, but raised mainly in California. He received a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA in 1968, and a M.F.A. in 1969. Foster enjoys traveling because it gives him opportunities to meet new people and explore new places and cultures. This interest is carried over to his writing, but with a twist: the new places encountered in his books are likely to be on another planet, and the people may belong to an alien race.

Foster began his career as an author when a letter he sent to Arkham Collection was purchased by the editor and published in the magazine in 1968. His first novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, introduced the Humanx Commonwealth, a galactic alliance between humans and an insectlike race called Thranx. Several other novels, including the Icerigger trilogy, are also set in the world of the Commonwealth. The Tar-Aiym Krang also marked the first appearance of Flinx, a young man with paranormal abilities, who reappears in other books, including Orphan Star, For Love of Mother-Not, and Flinx in Flux.

Foster has also written The Damned series and the Spellsinger series, which includes The Hour of the Gate, The Moment of the Magician, The Paths of the Perambulator, and Son of Spellsinger, among others. Other books include novelizations of science fiction movies and television shows such as Star Trek, The Black Hole, Starman, Star Wars, and the Alien movies. Splinter of the Mind's Eye, a bestselling novel based on the Star Wars movies, received the Galaxy Award in 1979. The book Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990. His novel Our Lady of the Machine won him the UPC Award (Spain) in 1993. He also won the Ignotus Award (Spain) in 1994 and the Stannik Award (Russia) in 2000. He is the recipient of the Faust, the IAMTW Lifetime achievement award.

Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was a 2015 New York Times bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Thranx are that rarity in sf, a likable, insectlike alien race. Foster explores the early days of the Thranx's alliance with humans in this second book, following Phylogenesis [BKL My 15 99], of the Founding of the Commonwealth. Despite mutual queasiness, an increasing number of human-Thranx friendships have sprung up, encouraged by human liking for the delightful, subtle perfume of the Thranx, and Thranx admiration of the spontaneity and passion of human nature. Those relationships are largely forgotten, though, when humans encounter the staggeringly beautiful humanoid Pitar race. Mesmerized by physical charm, humans aren't suspicious when the Pitar gently refuse visitors on their home worlds; the time is not right, they say. When the human colony world of Treetrunk is decimated to the last infant--600,000 lives in all--radical human groups finger the Thranx as likely perpetrators. But a single, half-mad survivor of the massacre makes a stunning claim as to the attackers' true identity that must be investigated. Foster's mining of human-Thranx affinity continues to yield compelling stories. --Roberta Johnson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Derivative and predictable, this second novel in Foster's Founding of the Commonwealth series reinforces the lesson that looks can be deceiving. When Alwyn Mallory explores the new world of Argus V, he inadvertently becomes part of the first contact team to meet the alien Pitar. Unlike the unpleasantly buglike alien thranx, the Pitar are "drop-dead, overpoweringly, stunningly, gorgeous." Relations with the friendly but disliked thranx slow to a crawl as humanity overwhelmingly embraces the Pitar. Their telegenic appearances are so compelling that the media scarcely notices when the thranx are attacked by terrorists in a protected diplomatic enclave on Earth. Possibly the only good thing to come out of the slaughter is the founding of a joint religion by two clerics, one human and one thranx. As years pass, and the Pitar continue to refuse access to their homeworld, the media spin explains that they are "shy" and refuses to believe they could have anything to hide. Meanwhile, humanity is happily expanding through the galaxy and colonizing Argus VÄuntil disaster strikes and all 600,000 colonists are hideously slaughtered by an unknown force. When Mallory is discovered, crazed and near death, hiding on one of the Argus's moons, he is the only hope humankind has for ascertaining just who the villainous, slaughtering aliens really are. Although Foster implies that interesting things are going to happen with human-thranx religious philosophies, that doesn't happen in this novel. Instead we get a vision of humanity as a race unable to see beyond the reflection of surface beauty and incapable of restraining itself from its basest instincts when that enhanced mirror is shattered. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When the human colonists of the planet Treetrunk encounter the Pitar, a new race of aliens seemingly intent on peaceful exploration and cultural exchange, they embrace their newfound friends as potential allies in the newly formed Humanx Commonwealth. An unexpected planetary tragedy, however, leads to the suspicion that the aliens' allure conceals darker motivations. The sequel to Phylogenesis continues Foster's saga of the early years of the human-alien confederation made popular in his "Flinx" series. Fast-paced action and likable human and alien protagonists make this a good choice for most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Kairuna was kneeling beside a flattened blue-brown bush that rose no higher than his knee, watching half a dozen dull yellow slugs with legs combine their efforts to spin a mutual home out of what appeared to be cerise silk. The nature of the instinct that impelled them to effortlessly meld their minuscule exertions would have to be identified by the xenologists. Absolved by his work classification of the need to analyze or classify, he was free to marvel and wonder at the intricate beauty of the delicate alien phenomenon. He felt sorry for the techs who were required to stop, stand, and interpret. Sometimes it was a lot better just to be able to look. Straightening, he let his gaze rove over the endless forest. Well, not literally endless. The Earthlike pseudo evergreens only occupied the broad temperate belt that followed the planet's equator. A traveler journeying to north or south would eventually run out of forest and into one of the great ice caps that dominated the surface of Argus V. But since preliminary surveys from orbit had indicated that the forest belt varied between two and three thousand miles in width, there was plenty of room left between the brooding ice for trees. And for ambulatory life, not all of which was as inconspicuous as silk-spinning slugs. In the two months they had been exploring the planet the surveyors had encountered a number of interesting and exotic larger life-forms. The local carnivores were efficient but not especially impressive--nothing the team couldn't deal with. Their presence added to the ambience of what was proving to be a chilly but otherwise hospitable world. "Norway." Idar came up behind Kairuna, puffing hard and lugging her tripod-mounted census taker with her. "Western Canada. Tasmania." Slapping her gloved hands together, she began to set up her instruments. Depending on how they were calibrated, they could take an image of a chosen section of ground together with an approximation of every kind and variety of life-form that dwelled therein. "Kind of cold for me." Kairuna came from and preferred a warmer clime. The pristine atmosphere and the oxygen infused into it by the untouched forest helped to compensate for temperatures that, while remaining above freezing, precluded anyone but stoic fanatics from running around in short pants. He was glad of his insulated jacket and boots. "Won't keep colonizers from coming." Idar squinted into an eyepiece, adjusted a readout, bent slightly to squint again. "Some folks would call this paradise." "If so, it'll always be one with limited horizons." Kairuna gazed northward. They were working about a thousand miles south of the northern ice cap, but he still fancied he could see the glint from its leading edge sparkling on the sharp blue horizon. "So it's not another New Riviera. What would be? But so far it looks as good or better than Proycon, and people are clamoring to settle there." Laboring behind her instrument, the census taker shrugged. "There's still plenty of room available for settlement. Oceans are small because so much of the planet's water is locked up in ice. People will like it here." Raising her head to look over the top of the eyepiece, she grinned. "Should be bonuses all around." Kairuna contemplated the possibility and found it warming. The gruff voice that chose to dissent made him wince and smile at the same time. "Bonuses! Ha! I wouldn't count on it!" Both techs turned a rueful, knowing smile in the direction of the newcomer. Alwyn was a short, stocky, dyspeptic, highly experienced member of the survey mission's support team. Able to raise a shelter, arrange for purified water, or fix an enormous variety of instruments in the field with little more than a pocket repair kit, he was as valuable a member of the expedition as he was personally irritating. Nobody on board the Chagos liked him very much, not even his fellow corps members. In addition to recovery and repair, his other area of specialization seemed to be carping and bitching. He did not even have the good grace to shut up when he was working, forcing whichever tech or scientist whose gear he was rejuvenating to have to stand around and listen to his complaining. He was, however, very good at what he did. "Why shouldn't we?" The more argumentative Idar confronted the support specialist without hesitation. "It's been years since anybody found a world that was even remotely Earthlike." She gestured expansively at the forest. "Maybe it's only partly colonizable because of the ice caps, but the rest of it, the upper temperate forest lands like this, will draw settlers in droves. You know the rules: Everybody qualifies for a share in the primary finding and exploration benefits." She chuckled. "Even you, unless you want to sign over your presupposed nonexistent bonus to me." "Thanks," the specialist muttered, "but I'll hang onto the designation, just in case I'm wrong and the government decides to play fair and honest with this one." "With this one?" Kairuna's heavy black eyebrows arched. "How many primes for colonizable worlds have you been on?" "Well, none, actually." The small, muscular form turned away. "This is my first." Excerpted from Dirge by Alan Dean Foster All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.