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Cluster Books In Order

Publication Order of Cluster Books

Vicinity Cluster (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chaining the Lady (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Kirlian Quest (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Thousandstar (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Viscous Circle (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The “Cluster” series is a series of novels science and fantasy fiction novels by English American SFF author Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob. Anthony debuted the Cluster series with the 1977 published “Cluster” that would later spawn four more titles culminating in the 1982 title “Viscous Circle”. Piers Anthony made a name for himself writing novels starting in all the 26 letters of the English Alphabet with the “Xanth” series, the most popular of his novels. Anthony was born to Quaker pacifists Norma and Alfred Jacob in London England. His father who held British citizen but was born in Philadelphia in the US took the family back to US, to a small rustic town of Winhall Vermont in 1941, where Piers made friends with Scott Nearing a radical author. Piers eventually went to Goddard College and got his degree in 1956. After two years in the US military where he also taught at the Admiral Farragut Academy, he quit to become a full-time fiction author. It was during his time in the military that he became much interested in writing fiction after he worked briefly as the cartoonist and editor of the battalion newspaper.

After quitting the military, he made a deal with his wife that if he could get his writing career going within a year she would support him in his endeavors, and find a job if he was not. He got a short story published within a year and has never looked back since, writing more than 100 novels in a career that has spanned more than forty five years. He established the Internet Publishers Survey that aims at helping fledgling writers in their careers for which he won the Friend of EPIC award in 2003 and the Preditors and Editors Special Recognition for Service to Writers Award. Anthony’s novels typically end with an author’s note that is about a chapter long in which he talks about his experiences writing the book, his life, himself, and real world issues informing the novel. Anthony who lives in Florida with his wife is deemed one of the greatest fantasy and science fiction authors ever.

The “Cluster” series is about an alternate world in which humanity has expanded its realm and colonized the galaxy to control an area bout 100 light years across. The sphere of influence is known as Sol and is bordered by other spheres such as Bellatrix, Mirzam, Nath, Spica, Canopus, Polaris and the decadent Mintaka and Sador. The colonization of the Cluster world is achieved through three ways; expensive teleportation, cryonical storage and transportation of colonists, and the most common life-ships. The last method is slower taking centuries and multiple generations to achieve its objective, with the added drawback of regression or obsolescence of technology. As such, most of the outermost populations have social systems resembling those of their home star’s past and lesser use of technology. However, the colonists acknowledge that they are part of a bigger interstellar empire as they often receive security and government personnel from the home star.

The core theme of the novel is the transfer of technology and energy from one civilization to the outer edges of its sphere of influence. The transfer is known as Kirlian transfer, a process through which the personality, knowledge and mind of a person can be transferred from one region to another in the sphere of influence. The Kirlian aura can be transferred from an animate to another animate body. For instance, a person living on Earth could transfer his Kirlian aura to the colonists that have regressed to the stone age period thus making available to them advanced knowledge to further the sphere. This method of transfer of technology is less expensive given that only the aura is transferred across the sphere. Much of the series involves the protagonists moving from celestial body to celestial body and into alien bodies, and using them to siphon energy from other galaxies, and combat existential threats from enemy spheres.

“Cluster” the first novel of the series explains that every being in the galaxy has a measurable Kirlian aura that can be transferred to distant physical bodies. However, while the recipient can receive the technology, personality, and mind of a more advanced civilization, the energy is typically lost at the rate of about a unit every day. Persons with higher Kirlian energies can have their power last longer and move through the Galaxy more freely. The novel opens to Sphere Sol receiving a message from Pnotl, an envoy from the Sphere Knyfh who asks for help in combating a crisis that could become an intergalactic level shared crisis. The Andromeda Galaxy just discovered a secret means of energy transfer they intend to use to siphon energy off of the Milky Way Galaxy. Knyfh is ready to offer their own secrets about transfer of energy to sphere Sol as long as Sol promises to spread the technology to everyone in the Milky Way. Through spreading the technology they can form a coalition that will track down and defeat the agents of the enemy Galaxy Andromeda. Flint is the man with the highest Kirlian aura in Sol. He is an Outworld native with a Kirlian aura in the high 200s and an eidetic memory that will be useful in understanding the complex permutations to be used in communication with neighboring spheres. He is a highly adapted individual with extraordinary intelligence who has to undertake a very complicated mission. The fact that he is tracked and pursued by a highly trained and high Kirlian aura agent only makes his work harder.

“Chaining the Lady” is the second explosive novel of Pier’s Anthony’s Cluster series of novels. Melody who is the offspring of the Andromedan and Flint mating of the first novel is tasked with saving the Milky Way Galaxy. She needs to go on a dangerous mission and survive alien and unknown worlds so that she can create a world where Kirlian aura limitations are unknown. The novel opens to the news that Andromeda just discovered a way of involuntary hosting of the Kirlian aura that make it possible to rob another of their aura if the target is weaker. Andromeda has managed to infiltrate Sphere Sol’s and almost all of its allies’ highest levels of government, and is now ready to launch its final push to steal most of the energy of their perennial enemy, the Milky Way Galaxy. Melody Mintaka who is a hybrid of the Andromedan and Outworld protagonists from Cluster is blessed with more that 200 Kirlian auras. When Sol captures an Andromedan agent she is asked to help interrogate the alien and find out and thwart Andromedan plans before they become a reality. The myths of Sphere Sol and Trot combine with ancient peoples, sites, and artifacts to make for one of the most thrilling of novels.

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