The story is told through a mixture of third-person omniscient narration, recollections of protagonist Jacque LeFavre, and documents. A matter transmitter is discovered by accident. It is not well understood, but it can be used to transmit a fixed volume of people and things light-years away. These then can be returned after a set time, and they will vanish if not returned. Using this device, Tamers are sent out to geoform planets that are likely candidates for Earth colonies. Children born at the other end will stay there, making it easier to use the device to populate those planets.
In 2051, twenty years after the discovery of the “slingshot effect” that makes matter transmission possible, Jacque LeFavre is chosen as a Tamer despite questions about his temper. (The book begins, “Denver pissed him off.”) He is sent, with four other Tamers, to the second planet of Groombridge 1618. Tamer Hsi Ching picks up a small creature and hands it to Jacque. They discover that they can communicate telepathically as long as they are both holding the creature. Ch’ing dies suddenly and for no apparent reason, and the other Tamers return to Earth.
The creatures become known as bridges, and experiments are conducted on them. Jacque and fellow Tamer Carol Wachal conduct their own experiment and have sex while holding a bridge. An attempt to kill and dissect a bridge is abandoned after one doctor who tries it suddenly dies and another immediately attempts suicide. Upon...
(The entire section is 608 words.)