The Alien Stars And Other Novellas by Tim Pratt,
Angry Robot, P/B, £8.99
Reviewed by Steve Dean
There are three novellas collected together here, which I suppose counts as one and then some others. The first story, The Augmented Stars (this author sure does like the word ‘stars’), follows Delilah Mears, who is taken on as a crew member for a mysterious mission. The cyborg Ashok, who is apparently a minor character from another novel, is plugged into the spaceship she is taken aboard. Off they go into space and into what looks like a trap and which turns out, in fact, to be a trap. Inside the sphere of space in which they are trapped, they are captured by pirates. Not space pirates, well, technically space pirates, but more like actual pirates. As it turns out, they’re re-enacting characters from an old to them television series about pirates. Fortunately for all of us, Delilah is not only familiar with the series but knows it word for word off by heart.
The first impression I got when reading this was that it was vanity published. It has that kind of amateur feel. As it turns out, it isn’t, but it was properly published by a proper publisher. It’s not a bad story; it’s just not great. The characters are very shallow; there’s not much suspense or any sense of wonder, surprise or excitement. The dialogue is stilted, and the pacing is flat. This novella reads more like fan fiction than anything else.
Moving on, we have The Artificial Stars. This one features Shall, a minor character from another novel. It involves some guff about threats to the entire universe and yet still manages to be dull, boring and instantly forgettable.
Finally, we come to the titular novella, The Alien Stars (not sure what other kinds are, apart from our sun.) This one is more of an epistolary narration than a story. It’s almost entirely exposition, which leaves no room for things like action, pacing and character development. As you can imagine, this makes for a tedious read. Overall then, this volume consists of one moderately ok piece of fan fiction and two other dreary stories.