THE STAR COUNTRY by Michael Cassutt


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Agreeable debut novel featuring a near-future Balkanizod US whose various squabbles are complicated by the presence of the visiting alien Hocq. Young, restless Jeremy Clayton is stuck on a dwindling Iowa commune, where life gets steadily harder as the climate deteriorates and resources diminish. Meanwhile, Dr. Lisa Marquez, ostensibly working for Texas but actually spying for California, conducts some large, tentacled Hocq on a tour; the Hocq have a package of advanced information, the Genesis Material, and, like Diogenes, are looking for someone honest to give it to. So the various US states are contending with one another and with Russia and Africa for the honor. One of the aliens, Harrek, dissatisfied with his own status and the way things are going, decides to defect; he flees with Lisa, but they soon crash-land near Jeremy's commune. Soon a number of mutually hostile groups are converging on the area: the humiliated Texans; the central States military; a gang of roving mechanized bandits looking for loot. Jeremy helps Lisa repair her air-car, but the terrified commune-ers shoot them down again by mistake. Lisa is injured, Harrek falls sick--he's actually about to reproduce himself, by fission; various power struggles occur before Harrek's boss/mother arrives along with the Texans. Finally, Harrek announces that he's found his honest man: Jeremy, who thereby becomes heir to the Genesis Material. Steady plotting, then, in a brisk, reasonably gripping narrative--but with a trite scenario and uninteresting aliens. Overall, a notch or two above average.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1986
ISBN: 0759271038
Publisher: Doubleday