Volume 18, Number 2, June, 2000


By Michael Flynn

TOR, 2000
Reviewed by William H. Stoddard
June 2000

Some time past, I described Michael Flynn's Rogue Star as unsatisfactory, largely because of the characterization—in particular, the characterization of Mariesa van Huyten, the driving force of the story. I'm pleased to say that the new book in Flynn's series is much more satisfactory

In part, this is because Flynn has brought in new, younger characters to carry on his multigenerational story of space exploration and warfare. The students at his imaginary multinational space academy are the best portrayed since Robert Heinlein's classic Space Cadet—and the part of the story that focuses on them includes one small piece of business that exactly matches one in Heinlein's story, as if Flynn were acknowledging Heinlein's inspiration. Flynn seems to be at his best in portraying young characters; the high school students in Firestar, the first book in the series, were the most entertaining part of that book, too.

Many of those same students show up here, older and entangled with various segments of Flynn's complex future society. Perhaps the most intriguing are Jimmy Poole, computer security consultant and hacker. and Tani Pandhya, novelist, now a couple with a child—and enmeshed in complex intrigues in which their true motives are not fully revealed to the reader. Flynn evokes the fairy tale of Bluebeard at one point in their story, a fitting comparison for the complex illusions and concealments that surround them.

Poole also provides one of Flynn's best witnesses for the ways in which his future spiel has changed. This book follows the old Cambellian formula of portraying a different society indirectly, by taking its differences (apparently) for granted—a technique perfected by Heinlein (and before him by Kipling, one of Heinlein's great influences). Here again Flynn has followed the Heinleinian tradition (in the exact Heinleinian sense: doing things in the same grand style as his predecessor, not doing the same things).

The larger plot moves with astronomical slowness, as Flynn further develops the evidence that nonhuman intelligences have been interfering with the solar system, possibly with hostile intent toward humanity. I still haven't decided whether this is a good idea or a bad one, as a way of developing Mariesa van Huyten's obsession with the threat of astronomical collisions; this volume leaves much to be revealed in the sequel—the series will ultimately stand or fall by how Flynn solves the mystery I expect. At this point we are in midseries and can be pleased that Flynn is carrying on so well once more.

All trademarks and copyrights property of their owners.
Creative Commons License
Prometheus, the newsletter of the Libertarian Futurists Society, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.