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Book Review


Reviewed by Robert J. Sawyer

Starcrosser by John Ibbitson, Collier MacMillan, Toronto, 1990.
Reviewed by Robert J. Sawyer
First published in Canadian Book Review Annual 1990

Copyright © 1990 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved

Starcrosser, a UFO abduction novel, is a book for junior high school students. It's part of Collier MacMillan Canada's "Series 2000," a collection of very short novels.

There's some funny, enjoyable material here, but I had real problems with both the plot and the underlying philosophy.

Plot first: At the beginning of the book, the hero, 14-year-old Marshall Hampton, sticks a magnet on the side of his Walkman portable cassette player. By the end of the book, weeks later, the magnet is still there but the tape within has somehow avoided being erased by it. Stretching credulity further, this Walkman suddenly turns out to have a built-in speaker (such portable tape players only have headphone jacks), so that Marshall can reduce some nasty aliens to quivering jelly by playing rock 'n' roll to them.

Beyond that, there's a morally reprehensible quality about the lessons of the book. Marshall is whisked away form his home in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, by alien Grophees who are at war with the evil Drakonians. The Grophees assume that because Drakonians look like humans, the humans must think like Drakonians. Rather than being exposed as silly prejudice, this assumption is borne out by the events of the story. And, although his conscience occasionally pipes up with a platitude, Marshall decides to help the Grophees, telling them how to mount a sneak attack against the Drakonians. A friendly alien cries, "That is not honest!" Marshall snaps back with some good old human wisdom: "Victory is never honest."

There's some very brief lip service paid to the evils of war, but it's all set aside when Marshall leads the Grophees and their allies in a slaughter of the Drakonians.

It's a breezy read, but I can't recommend it as either intelligent science fiction or as any kind of coherent morality play.

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