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on June 28, 2001
THE FLEET OF STARS, the final book of Poul Anderson's four-volume future history that began with HARVEST OF STARS, is perhaps the most successful. That's not saying much admittedly, but THE FLEET OF STARS leaves one with much fewer complaints than the previous books of the series.
THE FLEET OF STARS takes place over five hundred years after the previous book, HARVEST THE FIRE, and shows a far-future in which humanity is trapped in complacent irrevelance by the cybercosm, a collection of intelligent machines. Anson Guthrie, the libertarian icon and hero of the first book, leaves one of the distant planets he has colonized and returns to the Sol in download form to investigate rumors of a massive discovery by a gravitational lense.
This really is a mystery story, and although it drags often Anderson does manage to sustain suspense over what exactly the lense has discovered. The ending comes as something of a surprise. Unlike another reviewer, I felt the ending was particularly strong because it does answer the one question that the reader keeps in mind.
Although I cannot recommend this series, if you have already read HARVEST OF STARS and THE STARS ARE ALSO FIRE, it might be a good idea to read the latter two books of the series. While not as readable as airplane books or as substantial as real literature, this series does occasionally entertain.
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on October 1, 1997
"Fleet of Stars" is old-style sf dressed-up for the 90's and being walked around. I didn't finish it.
In the story Anderson recycles the classic, hero Anson Guthrie from "Harvest of Stars". "Harvest" was not a bad novel. And I could believe its vision of the future. In "Fleet", hundreds of years have passed. On Earth, an interplanetary sentient computer network exists along side of nano-tech, planetary engineering, and near FTL travel. When two of the characters are given a calculator and told to memorize all the sines from zero to 45 degrees to four decimal places as punishment, I stopped reading. Calculators! Here is an author unclear with the concept. Thinking like that would result in flint chippers being issued as standard equipment with nuclear warheads. That is the problem with "Fleet" everyone thinks and acts like they're in 60's or 70's USA.
Anderson remains technically a good writer, but he is severely dated. Claims to be a "Hard Science Fiction Author" mean he does not write novels with scenes violating the laws of physics. However, societal and technologic change are considerably more volatile then the speed of light. This is a novel by an author who is literally "locked-in" to his formative years. "Fleet" is golden age of sf draped in 90's techie buzzwords. The result is a story not silly enough to be considered a parody.
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Even though it lacks the power of the first two books in his series, this the fourth entry is still as elegantly crafted, and diamond-finished as the others. Not as exciting either, but that's not really the point of this book. It's more a mystery story than a suspense or adventure one, and one of the main attractions is the atmosphere and background of the book which heavily compensantes for anything lost by its methodical pace and lack of any real danger on the part of the protagonists. After all, does a work of art have to be exciting? No, it's just has to be beautiful, and this is.
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on November 20, 1998
I read the entire series and found it mostly boring. I don't think that Anderson actually resovled any of the problems raised from the conflict between the two main groups. The ending was especially disappointing, I wait through the entire book to find out whats going to happenwith some new alien civilization and he has a useless meeting between to characters in order to revive a dead one who ends up doing nothing. The entire last chapter was 'Fenn woke.'.
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on May 25, 2001
I have ten other books by Poul Anderson. Every one of them is a "5". This one is simply a failure. It dragggggggs terribly. This is the first book by Anderson that I know of that is badly written. Most Unfortunate.
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on April 14, 1999
Much in the same style as a Heinlein book in it's gruff long-lived hero, Anson Guthrie, the story may not please some who want up to the minute hard techno SF or a tight linear plot. The focus on the humanity of the characters, the way they think and feel at first seems distracting but leads you to give real thought to the conflicting philosophies that are presented by the various types of humans and the computer derived "protectors" that they have created somewhat in their image... In between you meet many various characters from different human and evolved animal societies and get involved in what their dreams,wishes, loves, and regrets are... I saw the books questions could be applied to our own here and now and what should be important for humanity to do... Should we be safe and save resources and stay here on our Earth or is there some reason or need to gamble and send man and not just robots to space.. This book explores all that and more without
pushing answers on you..It's also an entertaining big-question, old-style, many ideas at once SF story...not for everyone...but Poul Anderson sure does write characters you would like to know and can feel for... It moved me and made me cry at the end...and whatever a book's faults I guess that's an endorsement of the characterization...
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