The Stars Are Also Fire

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Poul Anderson’s vision of Earth’s future describes nearly total control of climate, society, and information by the cybercosm, an enormous network of artificial intelligences. Earth is peaceful under such monitoring and has colonized the Moon, but a small group of Terrans yearn for independence from the cybercosm. The moondwellers have evolved into another race better suited to lunar gravity. One of these, the wealthy and powerful aristocrat Lilisaire, offers two Terrans, Ian Kenmuir and Aleka Kame, the chance to win such freedom for both races. Terran moondwellers loyal to the cybercosm already clash with the aloof Lunarians, who want complete cultural separation. The cybercosm threatens to envelop the Moon and prevent its citizens from further space exploration beyond its control. Yet Lilisaire knows the system has hidden data on a tenth planet, Proserpina, which could provide Lunarians and Terrans an escape from the cybercosm. Hoping to use the data as a secret weapon against the cybercosm, she charges Ian and Aleka to steal the Proserpina file. In return, Lilisaire promises them vast rewards.

Stealing the file is no easy task. Ian and Aleka are pursued by Venator, a man with a direct mental link to the cybercosm’s heart. Each time they use a computer, Venator comes a step closer. Then Ian and Aleka learn about Dagny Beynac, discoverer of Proserpina. She has been dead for centuries, but her memory and personality live on as a computer download. With Dagny’s help, Ian and Aleka hatch a daring plan to locate Proserpina while still evading Venator.

Anderson’s thoughtful, well-researched examination of futuristic politics and cultural differences elevate THE STARS ARE ALSO FIRE past the typical space chase adventure. While not as readable as its predecessor, HARVEST OF STARS, it makes a fine companion book.