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    Review of A FOREST OF STARS by Kevin J. Anderson (see his website)


    Warner Aspect, July 2003

    The war with the mysterious hydrogues is not going well and the human defenders continue to squabble amongst themselves. After the accidental genocide of a hydrogues planet, the hydrogues have banned mining of gas giants--their natural habitat. Yet humans and the closely related (closely enough that they can interbreed) Ildira have no means of intersolar travel without the hydrogen they capture from the giant planets. Although the hydrogues have only reacted when their ultimatum is violated, humans continue to provocate them, drawing responses. Over time, however, it appears that humans are the least serious threat the hydrogues face. In fact, the hydrogues seem to be only one of four elemental species (representing air). In a battle ten thousand years earlier, the hydrogues prevailed over the other elements--but not completely.

    Author Kevin J. Anderson (see more reviews of novels by Anderson) writes on a huge tapestry. His multi-character novel travels from earth (where King Peter snipes at the Hanse leadership), to the planet of the world-tree, to the asteroid factories of the roamers to the huge Ildira empire where priestess Nira is held captive in a weird alien breeding project. Meanwhile, the strange robots of the extinct Khikiss race continue to plot their way to power.

    A FOREST OF STARS is a high-potential and high-concept story. Multiple races, sub-species of humans, elemental aliens, and vast spaceships clash while powerful economic forces wrok their way out. Unfortunately, Anderson's writing style is clunky with vast paragraphs of narrative reminding the reader of what they already know. Indeed, the entire first half of the book can beneficially be skimmed as nothing significant happens beyond recap of the events of HIDDEN EMPIRE (see our review).

    Scientifically curious readers will also wonder about strange weapons that can shoot cold rays (isn't cold an absence of energy), and spaceships that can destroy entire moons yet have to close to within a few hundred yards of a planet to destroy a tree. It is also odd that the hydrogues are so easily destroyed by suicide--why not just make a lot of ships and suicide them by remote control?

    A FOREST OF STARS is interesting and worth the read--but also disappointing for the way it falls short of its promise.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 8/11/03

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