November 2006


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Review: Variable Star

The concept is quite intriguing: a book imagined by Robert Heinlein and written years after his death from the original notes by Spider Robinson, arguably RH’s spiritual successor in the halls of Sci-Fi-dom.

It is a good book, an enjoyable read – I had to ration myself for fear of finishing it too quickly. The characterization is there, the plot is solid, the dialog is well written and carries well throughout the book. All the earmarks of a bestseller.

Then why am I disappointed?

Very simply: Spider has written this book before.

Okay, I’ll cut the guy a little slack. Having written some 32 or so previous books, one can expect that certain things will carry forward from previous books. I was just bummed that so many things carried forward in this one.

The main character has many similarities with Jake Stonebender of the Calahan’s series – and Jake is an extension of Spider himself. The plot is very reminiscent of Starseed if you look at the broad picture. Zen Buddhism plays a big part, as in most of Spider’s work. When it gets right down to it, the only things that are missing from the Robinson canon of plot elements is a mention of “Running, Jumping, Standing Still” and a sexy fat chick.

It was a very good book – but I kept getting the feeling that I had read it before. C’mon Spider, let’s see something new.

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