(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Even readers whose familiarity with science fiction is minimal may like STARSEED; for what Spider Robinson, a well-known master of the genre, and his wife, a choreographer and former modern dancer, have fashioned here is primarily an extended parable of the ultimate human spiritual aspiration. The story centers on Rain McLeod, an ex-dancer in her mid-forties, who tells her own story of leaving earth for Top Step, a floating asteroid where in zero gravity she can dance again. But dance is a metaphor for the basic human desire to escape the limitations of body and thus to achieve complete union and immortality—in theological terms, to become saint or angel, to reach the final rung on the human evolutionary scale.

Much of the book focuses on the training sessions that McLeod undergoes, giving the Robinsons the opportunity to explore the implications of actualizing the metaphysical desire to escape the biblical Fall and regain Edenic paradise. However, because a novel, even a metaphysical science fiction novel, cannot maintain interest solely by exploring spiritual analogies, the Robinsons create a love interest for their protagonist, both to satisfy reader curiosity about sex in zero gravity and to provide the occasion for plot complexity. The novel ends in a web of deceit worthy of a spy thriller and a blaze of action right out of a martial arts film.

Although the writing of STARSEED is bland and the spiritual analogies on which it depends are frequently forced, it is a competent example of its genre, quite suitable for whiling away a winter evening.