Thousandstar by Piers Anthony
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Meh. Not too impressed. I must admit, I approached this book with a little excitement because this was my first Piers Anthony novel and his reputation precedes him. I’ve read collaborations of his and some of his short stories, I believe, but never one of his solo novels, so I felt like it was time. While this wasn’t my typical sci fi fare, it seemed intriguing enough to merit buying and reading, so I did. And I simply got bored. Rather quickly. Actually, I made it nearly 40% of the way through, past page 112, until I gave up in frustration.
The story revolves around two alien beings, Heem of Highfalls and Jessica of Capella. Heem is a water-based blob who travels by rolling and communicates by taste and needling water. When we meet him, he is one of four HydrOs left in his valley and is eager to climb his mountain to see what is on the other side. When he does, the other three dying in the process, he is horrified to discover a snake-like meat eater, which he had never encountered or thought of before and is repulsed by.
Jessica is a blue, royal clone of a brother on Capella who are rapidly going bankrupt. Her brother devises a scheme to get them solvent quickly and it involves a quick, but possibly dangerous 10-day mission for him off planet. The two are so alike, they share virtually identical “auras,” and others don’t realize there are two of them. Shortly before he is to leave on his mission, he has an accident with a saw, begs Jessica to kill him and go on his mission for him, which horrifies her, but to do it to keep the family solvent and to keep it going into the future, so she does kill him and does exactly that – enter the contest, which is the mission.
Meanwhile, we find Heem is part of this contest. How he enters, we have no idea. Somehow along the way, we don’t know how much time has passed, but during this time, he has developed a reputation for being the best spaceship pilot and combat HydrO on his planet. How he went from inexperienced, but adventurous to Indiana Jones in blob form is beyond me and never explained, but there you have it. And this contest is made all the more difficult because there are three species piloting spaceships and all three are going to have other aliens in their minds “helping” them. How this happens is never explained to us. And guess what? Guess who winds up in Heem’s mind? Of course! Jessica. Big shock, right? And because Heem has no eyes, no head even, is a water-based blob, she can’t see, has no idea what is going on, except he realizes she is a female meat eater and is horrified that she is in his head and they can read each other’s minds, nothing is hidden from the other, so it’s interesting. For awhile. Then it gets old.
There are some 200 pilots and ships vying for 50 slots to make it to a certain planet to achieve a certain goal that only a few can come close to achieving and that only one will win, and it’s a life or death contest. Who is putting on the contest and why? No clue. Who has been invited and why? No clue. How have certain aliens been invited to ride in the pilots’ minds and why and how does it work? No clue. It’s never explained. For instance, when Heem gets into his spaceship, he’s shocked to hear a voice in his mind, a female alien voice that he can magically detect comes from a meat eater and is disgusted by. How can he tell this? Where does she come from? Where is her body? How can her mind be separated from her body and how is it placed in his mind? How can they read each other’s minds? Never explained. I can understand sci fi telepathy. But it’s not even mentioned here. Is it assumed? I guess so? But where is Jessica’s body? And how did her mind get into Heem’s mind? I want to fucking know!!!
Then the “action” starts! Heem’s is the 200th ship in line. He has to maneuver to get into the top 50, so he starts racing while having to conserve his fuel. The race goes on and on. There’s strategy and part of it is clever and occasionally exciting, but honestly, you can skim page after page and even skip five or eight pages at a time and not miss anything. It becomes boring as anything. And with Jessica interrupting Heem at virtually every thought he has, asking for explanations at everything he is thinking and doing, it turns into a second grade lesson for young, adolescent sci fi fans on basic strategy which is unbelievably annoying for those of us who have been reading the genre for awhile and can figure most of this out on our own. She’s obviously a total dumbass, but that doesn’t mean all of the readers are, Anthony!
This race goes on and on, page after page. It became apparent to me that this was going to take up the majority of the book and even though I’ve read other things happen – not much – towards the end of the book, I wasn’t willing to finish reading a book with such little action, suspense, lack of interesting dialogue, and lack of interesting plotlines. Basically, after the “cute” little hook of the two characters reading each other’s minds and dialoguing together, the book has nothing to offer, so there’s no point in continuing. Thus, my first Piers Anthony, while it had some promise, was largely a disappointment. Nonetheless, the book had enough in it and his reputation is big enough so that I’m willing to read more of his work. I just don’t know what book of his I should try next. I’m open to suggestions. Two stars for originality. However, not recommended.
One thought on “A Review of Thousandstar”
Scoot, I admire your tenacity. I have mostly given up reading books in general be ause I have been so disappointed, there is such a glut of repetitios dribble out there. Although for Christmas mt youngest gave a book called Menagerie by Rachel Vincent. I read it all the way through, was well written although I felt the end fizzled a bit. But that often happens with books. Hope you are feeling well.
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