A very good, if not run-of-the-mill science fiction story. This is the kind of sci-fi book that just about anyone who has ever read a sci-fi book could imagine writing. I doubt that there’s not a sci-fi out there who hasn’t wished they could stumble upon a fantastically advanced alien spaceship and immediately find themselves linked as the pilot. That would be so cool. I’ve thought about that when I was much younger. In this story, Jess, a very young man who is also a slave, has been a slave all his life, is forced to open a strange spaceship his masters are trying to capture. He doesn’t know anything about spaceships, just that he must obey his master or the obedience collar around his neck will punish him severely. So, he tries to do as told even though the first guy trying this was fried on the spot. His maters don’t care if he’s fried either, they have plenty of slaves.
Miraculously, the door to the spaceship opens at his touch. Then he and two other slaves are ordered to proceed to the flight control deck knowing that the three of them will set off any other booby traps that might exist. Well, there are no other booby traps. In fact, once on the flight control deck, Jess sits in the pilot’s chair and his control collar falls off. So does the collars of his two companions, Sal and Matt. Although they are ordered to come back out of the ship, they realize that they are now free and the doors to the spaceship have all shut. They have no way out, nor can their masters come get them and they cannot be punished through their collars which are now on the floor.
Now, their adventure starts. This starship has taken a liking to Jess and begins bonding with him as its new pilot. At first, Jess doesn’t realize this until he becomes aware of something different in his head. It’s as though he can feel the ship. As he sits in the pilot’s chair, a web of material slowing captures his head and the tendrils begin going into his brain. Now, none of this is felt and Jess doesn’t even know it’s happening until Matt asks him something and he finds he can’t turn his head very far. Then Matt tells him he’s got some spider-web connected from the chair to his head. Jess tries to get free, but the ship calmly tells him to calm down and that he won’t be held here for very long. Jess is going to be the Wanderer’s pilot and that means more freedom than he has ever experienced.
As I said, this is a good story. It’s kind of predictable in that space seems to be filled with very vile people (and no aliens) who seem to want to prey on each other. Instead of having a galactic community of free enterprise with trading done on a usual business-like basis, this galaxy runs on slave manpower, pirates doing as they please and people cheating each other whenever possible. Makes you wonder what happened to the Federation of Star Trek fame! Anyway, since Jess and his “friends” are now free, they now have to figure out what to do. The author then turns the story into a likely scenario when a naive young man almost gets taken to the cleaners on several occasions. How he and his ship get out of these jams is the interesting part of the story. Good reading and very interesting science fiction.