Some time past, I described 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 's series is much more satisfactory's
In part, this is because Space Cadet—and the part of the story that focuses on them includes one small piece of business that exactly matches one in 's story, as if were acknowledging 's inspiration. 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.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 's classic
Many of those same students show up here, older and entangled with various segments of'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. 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'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 (and before him by , one of 's great influences). Here again 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, asfurther 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 solves the mystery I expect. At this point we are in midseries and can be pleased that is carrying on so well once more.
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