Monday, February 16, 2009
The Enemy Stars by Poul Anderson
Originally published in Astounding in 1959 as "We Have Fed Our Seas", this story was retitled The Enemy Stars when it was published a book. I think the original title was the better one. When you read this story, you will too. Over the years I have read mixed reviews. Some have trashed this book, others have praised it. I fall into the praise camp but recommend it with reservations.
For varying reasons Ryerson, Maclaren, Nakamura, and Sverdlov end up on a mission to investigate a black star. While they are on the mission, we get to see what happens back home between Ryerson's new bride and his father. The main plotline involves the men learning how to work together and what happens when tragedy strikes. Like many of Anderson's stories, this one reflects the Norse grand tragedy theme he is fond of. It is one of the things that makes his fiction stand out from others. You never know if the characters are going to suceed let alone survive. That sounds like real life to me.
I thought he was able to bring the characters to life in a short time. It is one of his many strengths as a writer.
This is a short book but it also feels "heavy" because of the storyline. The inevitable tragedy and how the characters cope with it is what makes this a memorable story.
The line "we have fed our seas" will have a meaning you might not think of after you read this story. I know I will never look at a sea or ocean the same way again.
If you like stories where you know everything will be ok at the end, avoid this book. Otherwise, by all means hunt this book down and read it. Especially fans of Poul Anderson.
Rating: 4 out of 5.