Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review #103 - Starworld by Harry Harrison - Book 3 of the To The Stars trilogy

Book  27 of 52
Page count 161

At long last I've read the last book in the series.

Trilogies - they can be frustrating; the middle book especially.  The second volume of this trilogy was such a departure from the promising first that I and no desire to pick up the third for four months. Thankfully this last volume was a return to the fun Cold War-like setting but this time much if it taking place on board ships in space.

Revolution has come to Earth and Jan Kulozik is leading the charge for freedom from the oppressive government.  Right in the middle of things is Jan's antagonist Thurgood-Smyth, his evil and manipulative brother-in-law.  Smyth is by far my favourite character in this story; he is such a self-serving, ambitious, back-stabbing bureaucrat that I just wanted to take a shower after reading the parts of the book where he was present.

I love hard science fiction that pokes holes in popular tropes of the genre.  There is one scene in this third volume, that I just loved, where the opening scene of the movie Star Wars is discredited for the fantasy that it is.  After explaining how there can be no lasers in space warfare the engineer explains to Jan how, to truly fight in space, you have to use tried-and-true methods from hundreds of years in the past.  I won't tell you what it is since I think it was the best moment in the book and made everything else seem more plausible.

There was some great interplay between Kulozik and Thurgood-Smyth and, even in the final pages, you are never quite sure what Smyth is really up to.

So, was the story, as a whole, any good?  Well ... It was okay.  The second book really ruined things for me, there were some good moments there but not enough to say that it was worth reading.  It does, however resonate with you as you read the third novel.  These are rather short books, making the whole thing less of a commitment than most modern trilogies.  But it also suffers from the short page count, in that some leaps in plotting and simplification of character development occurs.

Up until now I've stayed away from the literary form, trilogies I mean.  They seem like such a commitment; three books to tell one story?  For my self, I am more comfortable with a series, you can dive in at just about any point, knowing the books are linked but that the author will give you enough back story to allow you to understand the book you are reading.

Original cover.

Harry Harrison


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