The Stars are Also Fire, Poul Anderson

Tor, 1994, 412 pages, C$29.95 hc, ISBN 0-312-85534-6

I really don’t know why I bought this book.

Granted, I was celebrating my last day on the job, and okay, so it was a Fat First Edition Tor Hardcover at 3.99$(Can.) but still… The Stars are Also Fire is the sequel to Harvest of Stars, another Fat Tor Hardcover bought for 3.99$(Can.) in the throes of a spending delirium. Harvest of Star ended up long and boring. The Star are also Fire is even worse.

The problem, I think, is all in the writing. Even if I gathered that the book was about evolution, AIs, independence and complex family matters (not to mention colonizable planetoids) the writing is so stupefyingly dull that all the excitement of the plot is smothered. Beautiful prose, but complete lack of action. To make matter worse, the book is looooooooong. Even simple actions take three, four pages.

So, no stars for The Stars are also Fire In fact, the remainder of this review would be my appreciation of the book if I had to say it stand-up comedian style. (Sorry, Mr. Anderson.)

So I bought this book last week. [Applause] Yeah, I know. Anyway, it’s from Poul Anderson and the cover’s pretty spiffy. [Shows book to audience] Yeah, the Vincent DiFate picture has absolutely no relation to what’s inside the book, but hey: We’re used to that from DiFate. In fact, if I ever see a DiFate cover faithfully representing what’s in the book; watch out, ’cause I’m gonna sue!

So I begin to read the book and fall asleep. I wake up, start to read again, fall asleep again! What’s the matter here? This some kind of US Army experiment? Or maybe they’re gearing up so if the FDA bans sleeping pills, they’re gonna get out literary substitutes?

I tell you, it’s been a slice since I’ve read a something that boring. I fact, I think it was last year’s tax papers. And those were only a few pages while this sucker’s more than 400 pages long! At least with this book, you get your money’s worth of sedatives. And some still say that length doesn’t matter!

Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure your sex life will improve with this book. Soon, you’ll be thinking: Oh, sex with the wife, or a few more pages of this? “Hmm… Oh, Honey?” Afterward, just make sure to make conversation before attempting a chapter or two.

Still, the book has its uses around the house: I was hanging a few paintings lately, and this book helped enormously: It’s so boring, I could use it to drill holes through the walls! Brother-in-law dropping by when you’ve got other plan? No Problem! “Come here, bro: Let me read you a few pages of this. What? Leaving already?”

I should feel lucky, I guess. At least, this isn’t as bad as Michael Crichton’s Sphere. Read that book? Yeah, nay? Well, that Crichton thing ends up by, I’m not making this up, “and it was all a dream.” Yeah, and you’re dreaming if you think I’m going to buy another one of your books, Mickey! That was so bad that I throw my copy on the wall every month. Both covers are now gone, as are a few pages. Once, I was with a friend, threw the book on the wall, at there’s a page that flies away from everything else, okay? So I take the page, rip it up, and eat the darn pieces! Dung it was, and dung it will become again!!

Thank you, thank you, see you next time! [Applause]

(All events are fictional, except for everything in the Sphere paragraph, which is all scrupulously true, including the dung line.)

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