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Stellar 4

Stellar, volume 4

Edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey 

16 Mar, 2009



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Stellar 4

edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey

Del Rey (May 1978)

230 pages ($1.95)

The cover shows an alien crying what appear to be tears of blood, while holding a cup. Art by H.R. Dongen. Illustrates the Tiptree story but as art doesn’t work for me.

[added in 2020] The SFBC reprint had this rather uninspired Gary Viskupic cover.

We Who Stole the Dream” (James Tiptree)

The story of some plucky aliens who escape enslavement and exploitation by humans at some great cost to themselves, only to discover their free kin are no better ethically than the humans.

It’s a Tiptree. Well written, depressing as hell. I still have not worked my way through her recent anthology from Tor, although there it’s the contrast between some of her comments in the book and her eventual fate.

Animal Lover” (Stephen R. Donaldson)

An animal-loving cyborg discovers a foul plot at a hunting reservation and foils it with much gore.

Far too long for the story it wants to tell but didn’t grate on me that way Donaldson’s first trilogy did.

Snake Eyes” (Alan Dean Foster)

Flinx and his minidrag help an old prospector recover some valuable gems and avoid getting whacked by some reprobates. Lots of double crossing.

A minor Flinx story. Inoffensive.

The Last Decision” (Ben Bova)

The Sun is going to brighten slightly, enough to kill a now mostly rural Earth. The Empire can possibly halt this, at great cost, but the Emperor is not sure he wants to: his son was killed there for failing to meet the standards necessary in an Emperor. He’s also not sure how to ensure the long project will be carried out. Eventually, he comes up with a plan to save the Earth by moving the Imperial court back to the Solar System from Alpha Centauri.

Interesting […] if only because it’s a sequel to someone else’s story. The dead son was killed in a Gordon R. Dickson story. Not sure why Bova decided to limit the Empire to NAFAL ships but I am a sucker for NAFAL backgrounds.

The Deimos Plague” (Charles Sheffield)

A lawyer, having ratted out the mob, flees to Mars with two pigs. His disguise accidentally allows him to survive a plague that kills the rest of the crew and deliver the pigs […] carrying the serum to stop the plague.

Well, I remember liking this series. Sheffield apparently sat down and made a list of subjects which SF was too genteel to discuss and then wrote stories about them. I think he calls the series his sewer series and it’s true the protagonists spend a lot of time up to their chins in human excrement in the tales. A new collection of them is out, although I forget from who.

Assassin” (James P. Hogan)

A killer travels to Earth to murder a scientist who fled the tyranny of Mars. The killer is fairly successful but runs afoul of the scientist’s subject

matter: matter duplication. One copy of the killer is sent back off to Mars, unaware that another version of him is being questioned by the Terran authorities.

Deadly tedious exposition, cardboard characters. Hogan at the height of his abilities. It’s interesting to contrast this with an Orson Scott Card story with much the same idea wrt prisoners in his _Capitol_ collection. Points for not having the plucky rebels be the default good guys, although I am not entirely certain the Terrans are so much more ethical.

Again, a bit of a mixed bag. The Tiptree alone justifies the collection, though.