Antares Dawn (1986) by Michael McCollum Antares Passage (1987) by Michael McCollum Antares Victory (2002) by Michael McCollum
The first two books of the Antares Trilogy came out in the 80's but Antares Victory was not released until 2002 so I went back and reread the first two books to refresh my memory. Michael McCollum is an aeronautical engineer and this clearly shows in his descriptions of the starships. McCollum uses what he calls foldspace which is effectively the same as what Lois McMaster Bujold calls jump points but McCollum goes into a much more detailed explanation of it. This could be regarded as somewhat silly, going into details about non-existent physics, but I found it both interesting and amusing. But this type of FTL travel has the same effect on military tactics in the McCollum universe as it does in the Bujold universe. These choke points of travel between star systems must be defended and attacked which tends to wreak carnage upon the attackers. McCollum has aliens fighting humans instead of humans vs. humans as in Bujold's universe.
The interspecies war begins because the giant star Antares goes supernova and disrupts the topology of foldspace. This brings humans and aliens into contact. So McCollum spends some time explaining the physics of stars which can be quite educational to someone who didn't know stars could explode. Frankly, I consider that a worthwhile part of the book and a strong reason to encourage kids to read them. How can you tell if a ten year old might turn into an astronomer or astrophysicist with just a little nudge in a direction he or she didn't even know existed?
Antares Dawn opens on a distant colony world which has only recently learned about the nova because it was so far away. The massive stellar explosion caused it to be completely cut off through its only foldpoint to a star near the nova. Bujold calls them jump points. Since it was more than 100 light years from Antares the peple in the colony had no idea why they were cut off but in McCollum's physics the passage of the speed of light shockwave from the nova reactivates their connection. Thus begins their adventure of learning what happened to humanity and the new state of interstellar politics.
Antares Passage is how the adventurers find their way to Earth via a circuitous route and learn how bad the war with the aliens is really going.
Antares Victory came out much later than the first two books. Of course the humans will be victorious over the pernicious aliens but it is all about how our intrepid hero does the deed. The trouble with aliens is that, they're alien. Too many aliens are just humans that look different but McCollum does a fair job of having his think a bit differently also.
I might give these books four stars but the trouble with this star count rating system for books is that it is so unidimensional. The SCIENCE is a factor which can be totally separate from the quality of the story. Today I would admit that I like Bujold's stories significantly more than McCollum's, but I don't think that would have been true 40 years ago. I am not going to open 3 encyclopedia today to learn more about the science a writer is talking about in a story. Today if I am sufficiently interested in that area of science or technology I probably already know as much as I would learn quickly from an encyclopedia. But 40 years ago those short articles expanded my perspective of the universe. I would easily have rated Antares Dawn as better than Komarr in bygone days. Komarr is quite likely the most scientific of Bujold's Vorkosigan series. It involves the scientific investigation of a collision in space that might actually be sabotage. But Bujold creates far more interesting and textured characters with trickier plot twists than McCollum so the evaluation of the two is a choice of writing versus science. So the reader needs to learn what he likes and sci-fi enthusiasts need to classify their SF better. At the very least the science and the writing should be evaluated separately.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Sep 18, 2009
Sep 12, 2013 02:37 AM UTC
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.