Intervention from outside the Milky Way
Ace double, 441-33710, 1972.
Bound with HIGHWOOD, by Neal Barrett, Jr. Cover by Peter Lloyd
Librairie des Champs-Elysées, 1974 (France) as "Les Planètes Meurent Aussi"
Allison & Busby, 1978.
Expanded from the short-story "The Patch" (published in New Worlds no. 145, 1964, as by Peter Woods).
Castor Krakhno believed he was waking from a nightmare. Opening his eyes, he found himself lying on his side on a concrete pavement. Near him were bodies, collapsed like rag dolls. They were all dead. The whole planet Carole was dead...
The Patch was happy. It had eaten well. It rested, savoring the flavor of the planets it had devoured. Then it began to move, following the slipline, drifting on to yet another inhabited world..."Enjoyable space operatics by one of the few writers of the 1970s (and since) who can still carry this sort of thing off with bravura." - David Pringle
"..Bayley distinguishes himself by using the mechanics of destruction more as backdrop than focal point. Under the strain of living in the path of the ravenous entity, an interstellar empire comes apart at the seams. Bayley is nothing if not imperial in his imagined politics: he is inordinately fond of galaxy-spanning governments. They feature again and again in his books, becoming more refined--and bureaucratic--as his skills evolve. Often theocratic, always militaristic, such societies are a drain on a modern author's resources, threatening to become outmoded or silly. Bayley manages to keep his functioning with Golden Age smoothness, using just a drop of lubricating parody." - Rhys Hughes
Barrington Bayley: "I enjoyed setting out the plot with consequences rebounding back and forth between the factions, and the whole thing was great fun to write as unabashed space opera. I'd always been captivated by the title of an Edmond Hamilton novel, STAR KINGS, though when I came to read it in my early teens I found it a disappointment and can remember nothing about it now (though the American paperback had a great cover). ANNIHILATION FACTOR is my attempt at a novel that lives up to Hamilton's title!"