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An intriguing journey across the depths of the galaxy
on July 1, 2001
Nobody knows why a great many sci-fi readers seem to nourish in primis a sort of mistrust in scientists who like to venture upon writing fiction. And yet, practically with infallible regularity, the reading public has then determined the huge success of such novelists - someway acting like go-betweens of the scientific and the literary spheres - from Carl Sagan to Isaac Asimov. That is not to say that I have undertaken to read this book by David Lee Summers with a shade of suspicion! Not at all, I have rather been spurred by much of a curiosity to see how an eclectic bloke like Dave - astronomer, teacher, editor and writer - would be able to convey his perception of the world we live in by means of a futuristic novel. In fact I believe - beyond creativity, originality and scriptory skill - that the sci-fi genre, even though evidently overworked, remains the most fascinating one. This because it often communicates, by implication, the author's personal convictions and perspectives about the ultimate meaning of the universe, as well as their attitude toward the great questions of life ... whence and why we are, which role we play in the cosmic scheme ... Well, David Lee Summers has not disappointed my own expectations, 'Children Of The Old Stars' has proved an engaging story from the prologue to the epilogue, rich with intelligent concepts and unusual narrative tricks, showing an original overall structure though proceeding in the groove of the twentieth century's great sci-fi novel's tradition. Definitely, a doubtless winning story, excellently written, without a drop in rhythm thanks to a wise alternation of the various frames concurring to shape the mystery of the Cluster. The whole tale centres in the sudden appearance in our galaxy of such unfathomable entity, while enigmatic events follow one another unceasingly not too far in the future. And in the middle of thousands of inhabited worlds, of the innumerable ultra-advanced species that populate the Milky Way, of amazing but credible achievements of transracial technology and of the disquieting aftermaths of an unknown presence, little by little - but prepotently in the end - once more emerges the centrality of man, in the figure of Captain John Mark Ellis. A simple human - perfect sample of his breed, in which defects seem to prevail over virtues - again turns out to be the keystone to solve the mystery. Much surprisingly, the book closes right when Captain Ellis's mission is just entering its crucial phase ... also about this David Lee Summers has revealed himself to be a master. From where he now can enjoy a full and unlimitedly aware view on everything, Arthur C. Clarke is surely winking at the author of this story in sympathy.