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    FALLING STARS by Michael Flynn

    TOR, February 2001

    A distant asteroid has changed course and is heading directly for impact with Earth. Meanwhile, the planetary economy has slipped into recession and a monumental lack of will oppresses the people. Space enterprises are being shuttered exactly when they are most needed if mankind is to prevent the fast-approaching tragedy. A small group of ex-high school colleagues must put aside the hatred many share for one another in order to prevent the greatest tragedy in human history.

    Set in the near future, FALLING STARS tells the story of these students, now grown and positioned among the most powerful of Earth's citizens. Jimmy Poole is a computer wizz who just might have set off the stock market crash that sent the world into recession; Chase Coughlin is a hot-shot space pilot who once terrorized Poole; Roberta Carson is a poet who helps drive the public will toward action; Mariesa van Huyten is a financial king-pin formerly married to one of their teachers.

    The basic premise of FALLING STARS, that mysterious aliens have left behind something, whether a gift, a test, or complete destruction, is a familiar standby of Science Fiction. Michael Flynn personalizes the story making the interrelations among the characters central and the alien intelligence a backdrop. Chase Coughlin, in particular, is a well drawn and sympathetic hero (who always claims that he ain't a hero). Flynn plays on the reader's emotional bonding with these characters with skill. On the downside, FALLING STARS could have stood an editor's knife. Pages and pages pass with nothing happening. Key conflicts, such as that between Jimmy and Chase, are so overdrawn that I wanted to skip over them and get on with the story.

    Quibbles notwithstanding, FALLING STARS was an enjoyable novel with moments of excellence.

    Three Stars

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