cover image Rogue Star

Rogue Star

Michael Flynn. Tor Books, $25.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86136-0

In this sprawling, near-future saga of power politics and space exploration, a sequel to Flynn's well-received Firestar (1996), billionaire industrialist Mariesa van Huyten continues to battle wrongheaded government officials, well-meaning but naive liberals and shortsighted businessmen to put in place an orbital defense against potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroids. The novel features a number of interconnected subplots. In one, Mariesa must come to terms with a U.S. president who wants to co-opt her not-yet-completed space station and turn it into an illegal and top-secret weapons platform. In another, a group of colorful blue-collar characters who might easily have come out of an Allen Steele novel build Mariesa's station and live their boisterous, occasionally violent lives. In yet another, the poet Roberta Carson, once Mariesa's disciple but now her sworn enemy, schemes to bring about the industrialist's downfall, supposedly for the good of the people. In perhaps the novel's most interesting plot thread, astronaut Forrest Calhoun and his crew intercept a near-Earth asteroid in deep space and find tantalizing hints that someone or something may have been there before them. Meanwhile, Mariesa, a talented amateur astronomer, has discovered evidence that a number of near-Earth asteroids may have subtly changed orbit in recent years in ways that increase their threat to our planet. Like all middle books in a series, this one is dependent on what has come before it and, despite a slam-bang closing battle, ends with everything of importance up in the air. Still, Flynn has produced a well-written hard SF novel brimming with vivid characters, realistic scenes of life in outer space and just a touch of genuine strangeness. (Apr.)