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The Children Star (Elysium Cycle) Mass Market Paperback – August 15, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Elysium Cycle Series

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Editorial Reviews


"The world-building is magnificently detailed; the characters are done with deftness and wit."--Chicago Sun-Times on Daughter of Elysium

"By the time the conflict she introduces in Part One has moved to center stage, you not only know the antagonist intimately, you care passionately about the outcome."--New York Times Book Review on A Door Into Ocean

"Slonczewski, a biologist, effectively describes a scary new world, filled with quaint-talking humans and primitive ways, whose fate is not resolved until a young female embarks on a quest that reveals the true nature of the aliens."--The Wall Street Journal on The Wall Around Eden

From the Publisher

"This novel's fireworks in the final third admirably justify its long, slow fuse." --The New York Times

"Slonszewski, a noted biologist, has written a novel that features enough absorbing material on genetics and planetary ecology to satisfy and aficionado of hard SF. At the same time, she tackles a wide range of moral issues, from overpopulation to ecological responsibility and the ethics of machine intelligence. Remarkably, Slonczewski accomplishes all of this in a story that is not only exciting but also filled with memorable characters, human, alien, and sentient machine." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Product Details

  • Series: Elysium Cycle
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (August 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812568621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812568622
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,020,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Lyn Slonczewski is a microbiologist at Kenyon College and a science fiction writer. She is the first since Fred Pohl to earn a second John Campbell award for best science fiction novel, "The Highest Frontier" (2012); her previous winner was "A Door into Ocean" (1987). "The Highest Frontier" invents a college in a space habitat financed by a tribal casino and protected from deadly ultraphytes by Homeworld Security. According to Alan Cheuse at NPR, her book invents "a worldwide communications system called Toy Box that makes the iPhone look like a Model-T Ford."

Slonczewski's classic "A Door into Ocean" depicts an ocean world run by genetic engineers who repel an interstellar invasion using nonviolent methods similar to Tahrir Square. In her book "Brain Plague," intelligent microbes invade human brains and establish microbial cities. She also authors with John W. Foster the leading microbiology textbook, Microbiology: An Evolving Science (W. W. Norton).

Author blog: ultraphyte.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Children Star turned out to be surprisingly engaging. It seems to straddle the target reader market of teenagers and adults. I liked the concepts presented concerning biology, but wish some of the other characters had more detail and development. The Elysium world that Joan Slonczewski created has interested me enough to look at other books from her.
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Some have described this novel as slow to start then rapid to conclude but I disagree. I think the pace was was excellent, we get enough time to build empathy for Brother Rod and 'jum to care about what happens to them and to pray that they can save the worlds threatened by greed and curiosity.

This is the third book set in Slonczewski's Fold universe after "A Door Into Ocean" and "Daughter of Elysium." This is a universe where the only life is human, perhaps descended from Earth but this is so far in the past but that it is difficult to know, or creatures that humans create... until they go to Prokaryon. Unlike previous colonizations where terraforming was the standard practice, events in "Daughter of Elysium" has made this unacceptable. In order to live on Prokaryon humans must be modified and this process can take years and years as well as a lot of money.

Money, power, and population pressures are sadly still the driving forces of humanity in this universe. If you have not read "Daughter of Elysium' you will not understand this book, some of the characters are the same and the background of political and social changes makes sense if you have read the previous book. It isn't as necessary to have read "A Door Into Ocean" but you'll understand the world better if you do.

I can't wait to read "Brain Plague" next.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My son had to read this book for a summer program called Upward Bound Math and Science and he really enjoyed it and found it quite intriguing. He said you don't even need to read the first book in the series for it to make sense. He and some of his other friends from the program actually read a couple other books in the series because they love how it is so science oriented.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Children Star tells the story of newly discovered planet from a both a biological and political perspective. The plot itself is surely one any sci-fi reader has read before, but its perspective and characters are original and thought-provoking, written with an eye for both the beautiful and ugly aspects of humanity.

Slonczewski portrays aspects of modern society as species of the "Fold", cleverly having them play out a modern day drama in the discovery of the new planet Prokaryon. The immortal Elysiums (the wealthy) in cahoots with the profit minded Proteus Corp. (big business) combine to find a new home for the overpopulated L'li that doesn't involve the refugees cluttering up the home world of the rich and powerful. These pathetic L'ils, like poverty stricken populations of our third world country, even take desperate treks through space on overcrowded starships to crash land on planets where they have no home, no money and no hope for survival. The fact that Prokaryon is already teeming with inhabitants, perhaps intelligence ones, does little to hinder the Fold's plan to create a new colony for the sick and poor. Money and influence quickly win and a tense struggle to save the indigenous species ensues.

This story unfolds around a religious colony struggling to co-exist with the planet, where young orphans live off the land, taken care of by sentient machines who have found their calling in the "Spirit". The author's play of species off species, including sentient machines that earn their freedom through consciousness and work furlough, was fascinating. While I just skimmed through the biology lecture sections of the book, I didn't feel that took away anything from the story, and some may find it enhances it for them. I haven't read the other books in the Elysium Cycle (Door into Ocean and Brain Plague) but I plan to now. I'm hoping they have less bizarre alien physiology and more inter-galactic policy.
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