The Dreaming Stars by Tim Pratt

The Dreaming Stars by Tim Pratt

Angry Robot, pb, £7.99

Reviewed by Martin Willoughby

Think of the TV series Firefly. Now take away the humour, the good characters, the antagonists and the storylines. What’s left is the Dreaming Stars.

It’s the sort of book that aspiring writers read and wonder who the author blackmailed. The book and the writing are not terrible, but there is little here that stands out. It’s literary beige.

Given that Pratt is a Hugo award winning author I can only imagine that this one was a book he was forced to write as a follow up to The Wrong Stars and rushed out.

The basic storyline is fine. The crew are in hiding after their last escapade and, as far as they know, considered dead. As a result they are living in an asteroid hoping that no one finds them. They still have a contact to the outside galaxy who is trying to find out if it’s safe to emerge from hiding using their real names.

While this is going on, they are called upon to investigate the disappearance of some people and vessels in a new area of space. Who by? The alien who’s making the enquiries mentioned above. It is, apparently, a matter of galactic life and death.

I won’t spoil it by telling you what they find, but it was, from a story point of view, almost interesting. I will tell you that it involves the Axiom, a race of beings who, judging by the storyline, are very advanced and play video games in their current dreamlike state. It’s a bit more serious than that, so if that description whets your appetite, go for it.

The crew are modern, standard tropes and include an androgynous being, a suspect crew member and a robot. The aliens themselves are not much better while the technological angle is pretty much what you’d expect.

Throughout the book there is an attempt at humour with the characters which falls flat and over all I can’t find much to recommend it.

However….given Pratt’s track record, a Hugo award for one, this is likely to be just a one off trough in his writing. Even Terry Pratchett had off days and we didn’t refuse to read his work afterwards.