The first wave of 200 settlers have established an outpost called Avalon on Tau Ceti Four on an island called Camelot. The atmosphere and gravity is pretty much the same as Earth. Vegetables, plants, and animals from Earth are being introduced to the alien environment with mixed results. One thing all of the settlers agree on is that one day the entire planet will be covered with humanity, since there isn't any indigenous intelligent life. Or is there?
The 200 settlers are specialized in particular fields and are supposed to be the cream of the crop in their specialty. One thing scientists back on Earth didn't plan for was that during the cryogenic freezing they had to undergo, some would suffer minor brain damage. A few become idiots, some just lose some of the power of memory or critical thinking. All in all, things are going very well.
Colonel Cadmann Weylan the military representative and war veteran believes they are going too well, that the colony's security and vigilance is becoming soft. The perimeter of the site is left in disrepair and if he didn't fix it himself, they would be defenceless. He can't quite put his finger on his worry. It becomes apparent when a amphibian alien, similar to Earth's komodo dragons, dubbed a Grendel, finds a taste for terran lifeforms which could lead to the destruction of Avalon. The alien has intelligence and is superfast and a killing machine.
The colony is also suffering from internal dissension. Weylan is treated as a goofball because of his constant vigilance. Plus he is in love with Sylvia Faulkland, who just happens to be married to another man, and also pregant with that man's baby. The problem is that the husband knows. Zack Moscowitz, the leader of the colony feels threatened by Weyland's failure to go along with the status quo.
You would think that the combination of three respected science fiction writers would produce a masterpiece for the ages. Much like music supergroups, the end product ends up no better than the artists produce seperately. Sometimes, it's even worse. The same is true here. The book is entertaining, but light years short of being a classic.
I liked the relationships in the book. There was some effort to build them between the characters. The bad things about it were the usual gaps in logic that have to exist to make books and movies about monsters work. For people to be killed by a monster they have to be really stupid. The colonists here reject the reality of the monster that is killing them even when there is strong evidence. For example, they have a speedboat race knowing that there could be a Grendel in the water. The fact that the planet is just like Earth reminds me of the old Star Trek episodes where every planet had an earthlike atmosphere. To expect the plants of Earth and other animals, like fish, to thrive there, is beyond belief to me. Another thing is that the thought processes of the Grendels are similar to that of the shark in Jaws in Peter Benchley's novel. "Must eat. Kill. Must challenge the pale lifeforms." Actually, this reads more like the dialogue of the indcredible hulk. This novel is also very similar to scenes of James Cameron's Aliens. Actually, parts of Ridley Scott's Alien also. Seeing as how it was published in 1987, one year after Aliens, it makes the plot even more suspicous. Well, for the usual bestseller dreck, this book is pretty good. It's worth reading, but don't think too much. I'm surprised it hasn't been made into a movie yet. It would make a good Michael Bay film.