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Black Star Rising Mass Market Paperback – February, 1990


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books (February 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345013948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345013941
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,624,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is humorous as other Pohl novels (although this is a bit more light-hearted as well). The novel takes place in a nearish-future world, where the US and Russia pretty much left each other defenseless after years of warring; because they no longer had defense, and other countries were affected too, the densely populated China and India took over the world easily (in a non-ridiculous kind of way).
Thus the stage is set; I don't feel like just ripping of the back of the book's summary so I'll just say this: Pohl's humorous touch adds spice to this Sci-fi novel with an interesting look on the future. The back cover said it's also an important message to mankind, but I don't know... judge for yourself, if you can find this book at a used bookseller. Four stars, because I don't want to give it a "perfect rating."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By 2theD on April 6, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Written between Pohl's Heechee Rendezvous (1984) and his widely known satirical Merchant's War (1986), one would expect Black Star Rising (1985) to retain some aspects of his former greatness, as in the popular Man Plus and Gateway. However, he seems to have led himself astray with this one-off novel like he did with another one-off novel in the 1980s- Syzygy. Both flopped.

Black Star Rising has a noble start: `It's the late twenty-first century. The USA and USSR have destroyed each other in a catastrophic nuclear exchange, and China now rules the Americans.' The reader is introduced to a Caucasian workforce in Alabama who are restricted to the farm in which they work. Castor has discovered a human head in the rice fields and is called to the city to deliver his testimony. He becomes embroiled with the Han-descended Police Inspector, the many-minded Professor and the affairs dealing with a mysterious object approaching Earth. The start is fairly good and lays a great foundation for a prospectively good novel...

... but inevitably the novel must continue. Behind this dignified steed of a novel's start there only follows a long trail of steaming horse apples. Once the `American Cabinet' arrives on alien soil (World), the plot quickly loses steam with many pages of doubletalk terminology and a bizarre, out-of-the-blue plot twist with its ridiculous self-contained history. What follows is a sexual romp for a small cast of characters parallel to the politicking of people from Earth and the people of World. There are no bombshells dropped in plot (steady as she goes), there is no character enrichment (like a placid lake of boredom) and even the ending receives a shrug of `whatever.
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Format: Hardcover
When a mysterious alien spacecraft approaches Earth and demands to speak with the President of the United States, then destroys a large Pacific island to demonstrate its strength and underscore its seriousness, you would expect the President to talk.

Problem is, in the late twenty-first century there is no President--not even a United States. In fact, in this world of the future, China rules the Americas; and, to most people, "USA" and "USSR" are just quaint abbreviations in historical dictionaries.

Then the aliens prove unreasonable about accepting substitutes...so one Anglo rice-cultivator from Heavenly Grain Collective Farm--near Biloxi, Mississippi--is forced to begin an adventure that will take him from peasant to President, from Pettyman to Spaceman.

Not a bad space yarn with good speculative aspects about what might happen if the two superpowers do themselves in. It kind of assumes the rest of the world could survive without too many problems, so it's a bit simplistic from that stand point. The conclusion is fairly predictable, although the interaction between the humans and the alien erks is an interesting analysis and worth while reading since the erks (although a real threat) are not your typical terrorist aliens from outer space. They come off as being comic opera characters with super weapons who have the ability to destroy planets. Definitely worth the read.
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Format: Hardcover
Often spoken of as a flop, it's still a decent story. However, if you're planning to scare someone away from the collective works of Pohl, this very well may be a decent jumping off point.

A book about war and peace, and more than that - it's a book about power. Power to conquer, and to survive; political power, medical power, cultural power, sexual power; real and imagined; effectual and important. In that same vain, the book makes points as to the absurdity of power and its pursuit: from the council of many to the solo conquests of the lone rebel. The book can best be summed up in one paragraph, nearl the end of the book:

'"But there's nothing to do now, Castor. We have tow hours of coasting before we make course corrections to rendezvous with the spaceway." But, of course, it was not the actual piloting that Castor wanted. What he wanted was the illusion of power. He wanted to form a picture of himself--captain of a great spacecraft on an urgent and perilous mission--that he could take out and look at, in his mind's eye, for the rest of his life.'
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