The Cruel Stars

Del Rey: Ballantine. Aug. 2019. 432p. ISBN 9780399593314. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399593321. FANTASY
In this first of a new series, Birmingham (The Golden Minute) depicts an interstellar empire comfortably using prolonged life spans, brain uploads, artificial intelligence intellects, and superscience weapons suddenly threatened by unexpectedly capable invaders. Lt. Lucinda Hardy, a low-status young officer of the Armadalen Navy, comes aboard the Defiant just in time for the attack of the Sturm, a remarkably unpleasant movement evicted from human space hundreds of years ago. They have returned to cleanse enhanced humans, sentient machines, and human-machine neural interfaces from existence, which unfortunately requires the destruction of the society, most of its people, and all advanced technology. They quickly decapitate the Armadalen state, leaving the Defiant the only effective military force, and murder its captain. Hardy, unmasked as a naval hero, takes command. Possibly the most interesting character is the 700-year-old admiral who defeated the original Sturm invasion and now bickers constantly with his AI companion.
VERDICT Continual space battle action, despicable enemies, tight corners, and plucky heroines enliven the story, though one-dimensional characters, improbable last-minute saves, and familiar tropes weaken it. For larger collections; space opera lovers will enjoy a fast and reasonably exciting read.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing