I had heard of Poul Anderson in my readings of science fiction, but I think this was my first venture into his work. I should say I was not disappointed.
The Enemy Stars follows several characters, specifically those aboard the Southern Cross, a vessel for travelling the universe. Apparently the technology used is called a “mattercaster”, which I understood to be a teleporter of some kind.
I can’t speak of this book without getting into spoilers. Let me say, it’s a short read and worth your time if hard science fiction from the late 50’s is your thing. I liked it well enough, but I wouldn’t say I’d recommend it to everyone who likes sci-fi in general.
The book follows characters. As such, the main characters on the ship are interesting people, but I felt that the two main men, Ryerson and Maclaren, were far too similar. I had trouble remembering which one was which. Also their portrayal of Nakamura had him practice Zen and use simple Japanese words, which struck me as a little one-dimensional. The other characters also suffered from this plight, save Magnus, who was interesting in the end.
Like a playwright, Anderson is able to use various characters in a simple setting to make interesting observations and musings on a variety of subjects. The ideas are solid science fiction, with a black star being the central focus of the expedition.
It’s a good book, but not for everyone.
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