LTDBooks, Jan 2000
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
Science Fiction Romance
Harrison Fairfax is out for revenge. A billionaire, Fairfax could have hired someone else to carry out his plans, but that wouldn’t have satisfied him. He is sure he knows who cost him his wife and father-in-law seven years ago, and he will spend any money, go through any hardship, to bring down the criminals responsible.
Captain Trieka Cavendish of the starship Starchild is intensely loyal to EarthFed. She ferries shiploads of colonists to new homes on the many planets EarthFed is developing. This time, she is also ferrying Harrison Fairfax to Denahault, along with a load of colonists to add to the pioneer population.
Trieka is worried that the attractive Fairfax will prove distracting, but doesn’t expect the distraction to come in the form of abduction. She finds Fairfax persuasive enough that when his enemies carry him off and hide him, Trieka rescues him. Forced to abandon her ship, she flees into the wilderness with him. The people they find there change the course not only of their lives, but of Earth colonization.
It took me a long time to figure out why STARCHILD was giving me fits framing a review. I have no problem with Denahault. It seems a perfectly reasonable, believable colony planet, in spite of the existence of Yeti on it. I have no problem with Fairfax, since I know nothing about billionaires. I don’t even have a problem with the EarthFed rogues, who seem not only believable but likely.
I do have a problem with Captain Trieka Cavendish. Throughout STARCHILD, her mental tone is that of a woman in her mid-twenties. In no way could she have worked her way up the military command structure to captain a colony ship at that age. She does not have the intelligence or authority of command. She is simply an everyday, feisty, somewhat skittish young woman with a purpose – or two purposes, since she changes course in mid-book. When the author says Fairfax feels intimidated by her, I don’t believe it a bit.
On the serious side, STARCHILD has a message for readers. To illustrate it, here is an incident I once heard about. A man who was filming a documentary on dolphins made friends with a dolphin mother and baby. At the end of filming, he asked the mother if she had a message for his viewers. She immediately left. She returned a while later and gave him a piece of plastic bag which had been floating around in the ocean for a long time. The messages were clear. The message of STARCHILD is also clear. Beings do not have to look human to be sentient; yet we can still have considerate friendships and cooperative alliances with them.
STARCHILD is light science fiction-adventure-romance, smoothly written and not particularly memorable, easy to pass a relaxing afternoon with.
February 2004 Review
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