Quadrail series

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The Quadrail series is a sequence of five (as of 2012) science fiction novels by Hugo Award winning author Timothy Zahn.

In a space opera setting, human Frank Compton is hired by the Spiders, servant beings who operate the intergalactic Quadrail network, and their enigmatic masters the Chahwyn, to investigate a group-mind, the Modhri, which infiltrates other sentient beings and controls them either directly, or by subconscious suggestion. Together with Bayta, an enigmatic woman the Spiders have assigned to help him, he researches and combats the Modhri and later its controller, the Shonkla’raa.

Books[edit]

Night Train to Rigel[edit]

Night Train to Rigel
First edition cover
Author Timothy Zahn
Country United States
Language English
Series Quadrail series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor
Publication date
2005
Followed by The Third Lynx

Night Train to Rigel is the first book in the series, published in 2005.

Plot[edit]

The story starts with former government agent, Frank Compton, meeting a young man who drops dead at his feet. Compton finds a ticket to a strange, interstellar train called the Quadrail. During Compton's ride on the Quadrail he falls asleep, and wakes up in the custody of the spiders, the operators of the Quadrail. The Spiders explain to Compton their worries of a weapon of mass destruction, which may be able to bypass their Quadrail security. Compton agrees to help, and is given a pass for the Quadrails and they assign him a traveling companion named Bayta, who has a strange talent for being telepathic in her communication to the Spiders.

Frank Compton discovers the power behind the Quadrail system: an ancient civilization called the Chahwyn. On the course of his travels on the Quadrail, he learns of the existence of the Modhri: the equally ancient enemy of the Chahwyn. The Modhri has its mind bent on controlling the galaxy.

The Third Lynx[edit]

The Third Lynx
First edition cover
Author Timothy Zahn
Country United States
Language English
Series Quadrail series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor
Publication date
2007
Preceded by Night Train to Rigel
Followed by Odd Girl Out

The Third Lynx is the second book in the series, released in hardcover on October 30, 2007.

Plot[edit]

The Third Lynx starts several months after the events of Night Train to Rigel. Having destroyed the hub world of the Modhri, Frank Campton is riding the Quadrail with Bayta, his traveling companion and friend, when a murder occurs on the Quadrail car which he is traveling on. The victim is a middle-aged man who had proposed a deal to Compton a few hours before.

Odd Girl Out[edit]

Odd Girl Out
First edition cover
Author Timothy Zahn
Country United States
Language English
Series Quadrail series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor
Publication date
2008
Preceded by The Third Lynx
Followed by The Domino Pattern

Odd Girl Out is the third book in the series, published in 2008.

Plot[edit]

The story starts shortly after the events in The Third Lynx. Upon arriving home, Frank Compton is awaited in his apartment by an unknown girl, who asks his aid in saving her sister. Declining her request, he sends her away.

The following day, he learns the girl has been brutally murdered, and one of his weapons is found at the scene. Together with Bayta, Compton travels to New Tigris to locate the girl's sister. There he learns both girls are part of an experiment by the Chahwyn, Compton and Bayta's employers, to create friendlier, symbiotic version of the Modhran coral they have been fighting for the past year. However, the Modhri has become aware of the project, and aims to assimilate the 'Abomination' before it can escape.

The Domino Pattern[edit]

The Domino Pattern
First edition cover
Author Timothy Zahn
Country United States
Language English
Series Quadrail series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor
Publication date
2010
Preceded by Odd Girl Out
Followed by Judgment at Proteus

The Domino Pattern is the fourth installment in the series. The Domino Pattern was published by Tor Books and was released in hardcover on January 5, 2010.

Plot[edit]

Frank and Bayta plan to travel to the Filian sector of the universe, to follow up on the Mohdri-infected Filiaelians they encountered in Odd Girl Out. To get there they need to take one of the Quadrail super-express trains, which won't make any stops for six weeks. Once their journey has started, passengers start to die, apparently murdered, despite the fact that Spider procedures should prevent any weapons or poisons from entering the train. What follows is a race against the clock to find the murderer.

Judgment at Proteus[edit]

Judgment at Proteus
First edition cover
Author Timothy Zahn
Country United States
Language English
Series Quadrail series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor
Publication date
2012
Preceded by The Domino Pattern

Judgment at Proteus is fifth and apparent final novel in the series. Judgment at Proteus was published by Tor Books and was released in hardcover on June 5, 2012.

Plot[edit]

After their discovery in The Domino Pattern that the Shonkla’raa, the original masters of the Modhri, were in fact a special cast of Filiaelian, and that the Filiaeli have re-engineered their genetic structure, Frank and Bayta escort Terese German, who seems to be of special interest to their enemies, to Proteus Station, one of the main Filiaeli genetic research centers.

Universe[edit]

Characters[edit]

Frank Compton[edit]

A Human from Earth's Western Alliance (a political/geographical subdivision, including, at least, some of North and South America), and former agent of Western Alliance Intelligence (Westali). In the first book he is recruited under false pretenses by the Spiders, to help stop a force which is trying to take over the Quadrail from them. Compton was fired from Westali for publicly questioning the politics of his superiors. He is well-versed in different combat techniques, investigation and military strategy.

Bayta[edit]

Although human in appearance, Bayta is in fact a symbiotic hybrid of Human and Chahwyn, and as such capable of communicating telepathically with the Chahwyn and the Spiders. She is assigned as Compton's assistant in 'Night Train to Rigel', and remains so throughout the series.

The Modhri[edit]

A group mind formed by salt-water coral, the Modhri can infect other creatures when they touch (are scratched by) the coral, after which a small colony of coral polyps will form in the host's nervous system, able to influence or control the host. Usually the host will not be aware of being controlled, either because it is done in the form of subconscious suggestion, or, in the case of direct control, it being rationalized as blackouts or sleep. When close enough, different sections of coral communicate telepathically, linking all coral and coral-infected hosts (walkers, or eyes) together in a single group mind, the size and composition of which constantly changes as portions of the mind move into and out of contact with other portions, exchanging knowledge as they do. The range of the telepathic link is mostly determined by the size of the combined coral segments.

The Melding[edit]

A "kinder, gentler" version of § The Modhri which works cooperatively and symbiotically with its hosts, instead of covertly controlling them or taking them over completely, as the Modhri does. Introduction of the coral polyps is performed differently for these hosts, to allow the more harmonious relationship. It is speculated, however, that if the normal touch infection vector is used, the Melding may operate the same as the Modhri, and take over its hosts, although the Modhri's deal with Morse in the 5th book, implies this need not be the case.

Other recurring characters[edit]

  • Bruce McMicking
  • Larry Cecil Hardin
  • Korak Fayr
  • Ackerley Morse
  • Rebekah Beach
  • Terese German

Races[edit]

  • Humans
  • Chahwyn
  • Spiders
  • Filiaeli
  • Bellidos
  • Juriani
  • Cimmaheem
  • Shorshians
  • Halkas
  • Tra‘ho’sej
  • Nemuti
  • Fibibib
  • Pirk

The Quadrail[edit]

See Quadrail