Stars by Michael Flynn
Hardcover - 448 pages 1 Ed edition (February 2001) Tor Books; ISBN: 031287443X
Falling Stars finishes the Stars series, at least for now and though it's been a great ride, I can't help but think that Michael Flynn is breathing a sigh of relief. Writing near future hard SF is a tough job, as he points out in our interview with him this issue. The near future just won't hold still and things he invents for it have an unnerving habit of appearing on store shelves before he can finish the next installment. In Falling Stars there's a mission to an asteroid, nicely echoed by NASA's soft landing of a probe on Eros, this month as well.
Everything has been leading up to this book and it doesn't let us down for a minute. Van Huyten industries has been the tool of one woman who became obsessed with the danger of asteroid impact when she was only a girl and has spent a long life building the tools to defend Earth. An especially good thing, because a few books ago we discovered that someone was stacking the cosmic deck and aiming big rocks at us. Whether they were trying to wipe us out or just get our attention is something we may never find out, but the main story here is the voyage to a far rock to turn it away before it gets too close.
This is the culmination of a long piece of character development and for a few, the end of the road. Saving the world is a dangerous job, but each character has been shaped along the way to play their part. For some. like Chase Coughlin and Jacinta Rosario, it's the realization of dream, for others, like hacker Jimmy Poole, it's a chance to redeem themselves.
At the close of the last book, the world economy was in sad shape and the "Greens" had effectively sabotaged man's drive into space. Now, time is starting to run out, because stopping an asteroid isn't something you can do just before it plunges into the atmosphere, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Mariesa van Huyten will spend her last dime and more to accomplish her life work, even if she has to sacrifice others to the cause.
Flynn takes us on a great ride deep into space and dangles all manner of plausible hardware just out of our reach. There's plenty of action, no shortage of tension or adventure, and if you've been following this saga from the start, there's not way you'll be happy if you miss the big finale.
Over the series Flynn has developed a tremendous cast of characters and anticipated numerous changes in society, some of which we can only hope turn out as well as his. Of course, we can always put our own backs to the wheel and push. All together now, one, two, three...heave. Ad Adstra!
Michael Flynn is currently working on a new book based in the same universe, but a few years down the road. Find out more about it in our Michael Flynn Interview.