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Starfire (Bantam Spectra) Mass Market Paperback – May 2, 2000


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Starfire (Bantam Spectra) + Dark as Day (Cold as Ice) + Aftermath
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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra
  • Mass Market Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reissue edition (May 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553577395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553577396
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The sky is falling--again. Following up on 1998's excellent Aftermath, Starfire subjects planet Earth to yet another cosmic blast from the Alpha Centauri supernova. But while the blast that hit Earth in Aftermath simply cooked the Southern hemisphere and knocked out unshielded technology with a flash of gamma rays, this wave promises to do some real damage, with a sleet of trillion-nuclei bundles moving at one-tenth the speed of light.

Warned by the first catastrophe, Earth began building an electromagnetic shield out of the orbiting Sky City station to divert the incoming apocalypse. But not only will the storm come earlier than expected, the carnage may be worse than anyone imagined--preliminary data shows that the supernova was no accident, and that the wave of particles may in fact be a beam. Crackerjack hard-SF author Charles Sheffield brings back much of the cast of Aftermath for this suspenseful, well-paced follow-up, the two most satisfying returnees being sociopath-savant Oliver Guest and his former patient Seth Parsigian. In the book's subplot, the brilliant Guest and gruff Parsigian must team up to solve a string of grisly child murders on Sky City that threatens to push the shield project even further behind schedule. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

High-tech hard SF and murder mystery converge in Sheffield's (Aftermath) latest, multi-voiced narrative, but the result does credit to neither genre. After escaping from the "judicial sleep" in which he was to have spent six centuries atoning for killing 18 adolescent girls in order to clone happier versions of them, infamous murderer Oliver Guest hid in an Irish castle. More than 11 years later, in 2053, Guest, still on the lam, is found by Seth Parsigian, who blackmails him into helping to identify a serial killer who has been slaying teenage girls on Sky City. The murders are upsetting the city's dedicated residents, who are building a shield to help Earth survive an oncoming wave of deadly particles from Alpha Centauri. While U.S. president Celine Tanaka handles the political fallout from physicist Wilmer Oldfield's disastrous predictions about the proximity of the approaching particles, Gordy Rolfe, the short, depraved genius who is in charge of building the protective shield, sabotages Earth's plans for survival so he can rule the depopulated planet that will be left in the wake of the disaster. Though there is plenty of actionAthe murders are solved, a love affair begins, evil characters are vanquishedAthe many switches in points of view produce a herky-jerky narrative, and there are long, dull expositions about particle waves and space stations. Sheffield creates powerful space-faring women, but his dark wit sparkles most in his depiction of Oliver Guest, who is rewarded for his crimes by having a houseful of loving little girls always at his beck and call. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Great book for any scifi fan.
Bluejack
There were times I wasn't sure I would make it through the 500 pages, but the flow is fairly even which helps.
Brett A. Fishwild
The most striking thing about this book is its exploration of emotional intelligence.
Daniel P. Bond

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book without realizing it is a second part of a series. It gives enough background information to stand on its own - and stand very tall indeed. "Star Fire" is both a good science and a good fiction fiction, with a scientifically plausible yet totally unexpected ending. At least one unexpected ending - I figured out the killer's identity about halfway through the book, but it does require careful attention to details. While it is hard to imagine detectives who would keep their mind on solving a murder while the world is about to end, Sheffield manages to make it believable. The most complex and interesting character in the book is one of two detectives - a Hannibal Lecter type genius serial killer enlisted to catch another serial killer, - but other characters are good also. The weakest point - indeed the reason I am giving the book 4 stars instead of 5, - is one major female character who starts out as an incredibly tough and ruthless "corporate Mata Hari", then suddenly falls in love and comes totally unglued. Considering the nature of organization she works for and the fact that she managed to reach Number 2 in it, this is pathetic.
I am looking forward to the sequel, but I don't think I will bother reading the first book in the series ("Aftermath"). It did not get very good reviews, and "Star Fire" seems to adequately summarize what happened before.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel P. Bond on July 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The most striking thing about this book is its exploration of emotional intelligence. Scheffield constantly plays with the stock images of the engineer, the polititian, and the business person, turning them upside down. Nothing is really what it seems...it seems. He takes the reader deeply into the motives, weaknesses and strengths of individuals who happen to have those roles. And that's just one of the threads deftly woven into the story. Scheffield makes a supernova cool (sorry 'bout that!).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert H. Nunnally Jr. on October 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sheffield's work reminds me of the hard-science multi-plot future history works of the writers of the 50s and early 60s. The work has very much the feel of a serialized sci fi mag piece from Astounding or some such. The usual ingredients are there--a collection of disparate characters enmeshed in a handful of subplots, the mildly dystopian but recognizable earth of fifty years hence, a global threat, eccentric yet capable minds that work to solve it, and, finally, not one but two little puzzle mysteries, with punch line endings to both inquiries. Sheffield's plotting is a real strength; the characterization is a bit pat. I recommend this one, though, as the central dilemma is compelling, and the book lacks the gratuitious glandular or violent juvenalia which infects so many more modern sci fis. This is a fun afternoon, rather than an epic voyage, but not every unmanned satellite can discover a new universe....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bluejack on May 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a virtuoso narrative work: the plots and subplots that weave through the massive event of a cataclysmic (and acknowledgedly unlikely) cosmic event make for a real page turner. There are some serious flaws, so let me attend to those:
1) Some characters are marvellous (the noble monster, the detective, the brilliant-but-unrefined australian girl (and is there such thing as a refined australian girl?)); but all characters are over-the-top comic-book caricatures. These are not compellingly believable characters, they are amusing extremes: except where they are actually a detriment to the book (the megalomaniac dwarf, the rediculous secretary) -- then they are not even very amusing.
2) The sexism. Ok, we have a strong woman president, and the scientific genius is a young australian orphan -- how can this be sexist? Well, the sexism is awkwardly evident in that these same strong women reveal themselves to be facades of strength who end up relying on rather shabby looking (morally, socially) males who have an inner iron. It is rather disappointing that one of the main characters, Maddy, turns out to be made of ... nothing. Our woman president ends up doing... nothing. Only the genius comes through.
3) Incredible naivete! We have brilliant scientists and engineers: the other characters marvel at how noble and egoless these communities are. And how they pull together in a crisis, and how they get the job done. Well, engineers need all the glorification they can get, but let me tell you as an insider: it just aint so. Engineers are as petty, as political, as backstabbing as any other human: they just tend not to be very good at it.
4) More naivete!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Aftermath was certainly as believable as Starfire AND is well worth reading even if you read the latter first. There is some building of the Starfire tale from bits and pieces of Aftermath BUT you have so little of Aftermath presented that reading the first member of this series will not be spoiled. Yes, the change in some characters must be taken in a very laid back fashion (that variation doesn't seem like hard scifi). But it is the ultimate source of the beamed particles that has been left to a sequel that seems like fantasy. I guess we will have to wait for the sequel to discover what the Scientific origins are on this one. The story does move and holds ones attention even if the different major characters are a bit too improbable at times. But in true Sheffield fashion if you will just relax and allow that human nature and Science are not always what we anticipate, then this is a tale you will enjoy. I too had a feeling as to who the murderer must be beyond the books mid point but had not worked it out (other than by elimination within the characters presented in detail - a major assumption!). This reads fast enough that there is no reason to skip to the end unless you just don't want to get the scientific detail that will wait for an explanation in the sequel.
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