400 Billion Stars


Paul J McAuley


Fantasy / Science Fiction


Date Reviewed:

June 16, 2006

This book is from 1988. It may be the first novel by Paul J McAuley, it is certainly one of his earlier published works. McAuley is a terrific writer, I just love his Confluence Trilogy: Child of the River, Ancient of Days, Shrine of Stars. (However, I thought his Secret of Life was kinda dull).

Despite the title, 400 billions stars (ie: all the stars in the Milky Way), all the action in this book takes place on a remote planet circling a dim red sun. Humanity has just begun to expand from its home system, and on another planet it is engaged in an intense war with "The Enemy" - aliens who are so fierce, so resistant to human contact, that not one has ever been captured, nor even observed. On this small planet, life forms have been found, but nothing beyond primitive creatures exist - the most advance seems to be some nomad herders. But the planet has been terraformed, it contains lifeforms from nearby solar systems (including some descendants of Earth species), indeed, the planet itself has been altered in its orbit, and spun up to give it rotation, so that night and day exist. What alien species has such power? And where are these aliens now? And is this somehow related to "The Enemy" that humans are fighting in the other system? The navy has sent a team to investigate the planet.

The heroine is Dorthy Yoshida, a telepath. The navy has coerced her to come to this remote planet to see if her mental Talent can give insight to the herders and the structures found on the planet.

Just a strange side comment - if you type in "Paul McAuley" in Amazon's search engine, you don't came the same list of books that you get if you type in "Paul J McAuley", even though he is the same guy. Apparently, he dropped the middle initial a few novels ago.