The End of the Matter
by Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey, 246p.
Having just read (and roundly insulted) Orphan Star, some form of grim completism caused me to read on. The End of the Matter is the immediate sequel to Orphan Star and The Tar-Aiym Krang, and just as sloppily written as Orphan Star and full of jaw-dropping co-incidences. No mention is made of the fact that Flinx (our protagonist) rented and lost a starship that he couldn't possibly afford to pay for in the previous book ... while he has his own starship now, he would be wanted by the rental company and the law. By bizarre co-incidence, he acquires a whacky and non-sensical alien companion - while simultaneously incurring the wrath of the Qwarm. I think this is the first appearance of the Qwarm, a league of interstellar assassins. Foster spends a fair bit of time trying to impress on us how feared they are ... and then shows us only incompetence as the "good guys" kill dozens of the Qwarm and the Qwarm only succeed in killing two defenseless women and a child (this emphasizes how evil they are, but sure doesn't show an organization that was going to make a living by killing people ...). Foster has ever after used the Qwarm as a standard recipe item: "I need a sense of menace ... oooh, toss in a pinch of Qwarm!"
Flinx goes off planet, once again looking for any explanation of his parentage. Amazingly (and "co-incidentally"), this leads him to Skua September (from Icerigger, Foster's first(?) book, and the only one he wrote before this trio of books about Flinx). And then, by a co-incidence that makes the previous one look common-place, he meets up with Bran Tse-Mallory and Truzenzuzex from The Tar-Aiym Krang.
In the end, he learns a tiny little bit more about his heritage, and helps save a couple worlds. Which follows the pattern of Orphan Star, which likely set the template for all of the Flinx adventures.
These two books have tainted my interest in the previous books ... although I'll still tell you that The Tar-Aiym Krang and Icerigger are decent adventure stories. However, Foster's writing got rapidly sloppier and these two suffer from severe sequelitis while failing to retain any of the charm of the first book that starred Flinx.