Okay, I'll say right at the start that I have no idea what the title means. Sounds good, but I don't see any connection to the story. But, hey. I don't care.
This is one of those books that I've had for years and had been planning to read for a long time. Somehow it got stuck back behind some other DAW books and forgotten. When I came across it recently, I decided it was past time to read it.
Daniel Ransom is probably best known for his horror novels written for Zebra books back in the Good Old Days, but he also wrote SF for DAW Books (I'll eventually get around to Zone Soldiers). And you probably know already that Ransom is a pen name used by Ed Gorman. Gorman says that this particular book could not have been written without extensive help from Larry Segriff.
I don't know what Segriff's contributions were, but Gorman's style is almost immediately recognizable in The Fugitive Stars. There's an underlying tone of melancholy leavened with humor that seems typical of a lot of his work to me. Ransom says that the book owes debts to a lot of old B&W movies from directors Don Siegel, Jack Arnold, and Val Lewton. SF fans will notice debts to writers like Robert A. Heinlein and Alfred Bester.
Michael Raines is a telepath who's losing his powers. Once a part of an experimental government program, Raines is now on his own, lonely and getting older. A mysterious woman leaves a package at his door, and the action begins. It doesn't let up.
It seems that some astronauts visiting a comet in the year 2011 (the book was published in 1995) have been possessed by an alien something, and now the alien something has begun taking over others. It's up to Raines and the wife of one of the astronauts to stop it and save the world.
The things that happen are like the the things that happen in the old B&W movies, and it doesn't do to think about them too much. Just go along for the ride and imagine the story unfolding in a theater on a Saturday afternoon in 1957. Give it a try, and you'll see what I mean.