I just finished reading the second to last book in the series of sci fi children's books written by Isaac Asimov and his wife. Using my birthday money I have actually managed to purchase the entire set, which is happy given that they are old and somewhat obscure books. This particular books plot reminds me a lot of the plot of the original Star Trek movie, except done a lot better. Which is saying something since I am a fan of even the cheesy installments of the original Star Trek movies (never saw the TV series, don't ask how that happened).
The difference is in the Star Trek movie the character inadvertently killed by the alien life form is someone I at least never could really care about. Her romance with one of our main characters seemed little more than an interspecies novelty act. So when she dies its kind of like, oh, what a downer, an annoying character was gotten rid of. Glad she didn't stick around for the sequel.
In the Norby book, the inadvertently killed character is the main character's brother and you care about him. And the final sacrifice joining minds together was more than some cheesy "I want to touch my creator" meeting a sexual impulse that can be followed by Bones' saying "Well, it's been a long time since I delivered a baby. I hope we got this one off to a good start." In the Norby book, the final sacrifice is teaching a newly sentient form about death, diversity, and compassion and done without selfish or hormonal causes. It's also coming from someone we haven't known long but is loved and honored by everyone in the book.
So if you thought the plot elements in Star Trek: The Motion Picture were fun but could use a better kind of cheesy presentation, I'd recommend Norby and the Oldest Dragon.
2 weeks ago