The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'Firestar':
Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
I suppose what attracted me initially was that the book dealt so
extensively with education. (Which is dear to my heart.) But the
first two thirds of the book is exceptionally finely crafted in terms
of tone, development, plotting, and even poetry. Rather than mere
newsstand fodder genre fiction (like so many other science fiction,
mystery, thriller, etc. genre volumes), at its best this approaches
the level of the literary novel.
The science is not bad either. While not burdening the reader with
detail, the technologies described are plausible and (with minor
exceptions) achievable with existing or foreseeable engineering.
Careful study and attention to orbital and celestial mechanics, rocket
engine technology, and even metallurgy is evident. (Solar panel
conversion and laser power transmission is perhaps just a tad
optimistic, but acceptable.) In the early parts of the book the
business and economic aspects seem to be quite reasonable as well.
Computers and communications are generally presented realistically.
Laptops, "assistants," voice recognition, and communications are all
quite functional. The one area that I have a significant problem with
is really only a side note to the story, and one that could easily be
excised or modified: the mythical "lone genius hacker" so fondly
beloved by fiction writers. Supergeek or not, realtime navigation
software is nothing to mess with on the fly, in a rush, at the last
minute. The exploits of a lone wolf breaking into pretty much every
system on the planet is also just too far beyond the realm of the
possible to even entertain.
As I have intimated, though, the last third of the book (by page
count) is not up to the quality of the beginning. Plotting,
characterization, development, and even the poetry and technology
suffer towards the end. Having been grabbed by the early chapters,
and held solidly through most of the book, I was seriously
disappointed by the time part three came around, and completely let
down by the ending.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998
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