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Marilee J. Layman

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05:38 pm: The Stars Down Under by Sandra McDonald
When we left the first book, The Outback Stars, I didn't tell everything because I didn't know where this second book was going. So during the first book, Jodenny marries her Sergeant, Terry Myell. Fraternization! And they're both spot-promoted because of something exciting right before the end.

But this book starts with them at headquarters because they refused to test a new alien transportation system (it makes them sick and gives Terry outback visions). Jodenny has a desk job and Terry is supposed to be teaching in the supply school. He doesn't actually teach, though, because the Captain who runs the school is angry about Fraternization! and that Terry is refusing to go through the "optional" one-month chief h/a/z/i/n/g/ training. Terry is assaulted several times and then when he agrees to at least step into the transportation system (reminds me of Stargate), and it activates, the mission crew keep him in the ouroborous against his will.

Terry and the mission group have a lot of trouble, he has weird visions where he doesn't know what's true or not, and he is increasingly urged by the visions to run the whole alien planet and transportation systems. They run into reptilian aliens who were accidently let into the system by the previous helmsman, who is dying. Terry just wants to go back to Jodenny and be a supply chief.

Team Space knows Jodenny will find a way out and talk to media about her kidnapped husband, so they send her on a small passenger ship back to Earth undercover as a librarian, with two keepers. As they come out on the other end, they see the Debased Earth (we killed it) and four alien spaceships orbiting it. It turns out the aliens are more powerful, have faster spaceships, and are, of course, horrible.

Terry and his part of the mission get to a temporary helm and he starts being taught against his wishes by the current helmsman. He uses that to rescue the other people trapped in the system, and to bring Jodenny to him. The helm starts coming apart and he is able to send most of the folks home, but some won't come to the room fast enough. He puts himself and Jodenny back on the passenger ship, but he's had enough brain damage that they're worried he'll never even know who he is. Their lifeboat is triggered to land in Australia, and then there's a looooong walk.

I liked this one as well, and will start the third tonight. I noticed in this book that she rather ungracefully introduces three gay/lesbian couples. I suspect I would have noticed any introduction since GLBT weren't in the first book, but this was a bit awkward.

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