cover image Starborn and Godsons

Starborn and Godsons

Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes. Baen, $25 (416p) ISBN 978-1-9821-2448-9

Fans of the hard sci-fi Heorot series from Niven, Barnes, and the late Pournelle (1933–2017) are likely to feel that the 25-year wait for this final installment (after Beowolf’s Children) was worth it. Mostly complete by the time of Pournelle’s death, this work thoughtfully builds on the vision of the future painted by prior volumes. The human colony on the extrasolar planet Avalon has achieved stability despite threats posed by the planet’s voracious reptilian monsters, who have decimated their numbers and destroyed essential tech. As the colony’s leaders work to repair and maintain their machinery, including shuttlecraft that enable them to leave the planet’s surface, they face two new challenges: the discovery of another intelligent life form, called cthulhus, whose intentions are unclear, and the arrival of a spaceship captained by Godsons, humans belonging to a group who had been excluded from the expedition that led to the creation of the Avalon colony. Unlike the expedition members and their descendants, whose goal was to create a peaceful society free from want and crime, the Godsons believed that humanity’s destiny was to conquer the universe. The ideological differences inevitably lead to clashes as tension between the humans mounts en route to the thrilling climax. This excellent series finale sticks the landing. (Apr.)