by Michael Flynn
In Lodestar, Flynn has very definitely moved from Mariesa Van Huyten’s generation to the generation of the kids she and Belinda Karr had helped in Firestar and Rogue Star. Although many of the characters are the same as in earlier books, Lodestar has a very different feel to it as those once young characters have managed to establish themselves and no longer are the children they once were. This is epitomized by Jimmy Poole, once the world’s leading computer cracker, now a wealthy and reasonably respected businessman.
The relationship between Mariesa Van Huyten and Roberta Carson continues to be one of the most realistic relationships in recent science fiction. The two women’s lives are still intertwined and rife with a mixture of love, hurt, reliance and hate which means they can never break completely apart from each other, nor become friends or confidantes as was indicated might happen in Firestar.
Given the earlier novels’ preoccupation with asteroids striking the earth, Lodestar is remarkably silent on the subject for much of its length. However, by removing Mariesa Van Huyten from center stage, Flynn is able to ignore many of her concerns and focus on the hopes, dreams and fears of his younger generation: Poole, Hobie, and the even younger Jacinta.
Much of Lodestar revolves around Jimmy Poole and the mysterious David Desherite. By electing to focus on Poole, Flynn effectively moves the story away from the realm of space exploration which occupied such a central position in Firestar and Rogue Star, replacing it, instead with a computer-based future which, while not quite cyberpunk, has a very different feel from the earlier novels.
Flynn has a good ear for slang, and most of the terms his characters use throughout the novel ring true. They are used in such a context that their meanings are immediately clear as well, in most cases, as their derivation.
Jacinta and her colleague at the Glenn Academy are, it seems clear, going to play an increasingly greater role in future volumes of Flynn’s series, which points out one of the weaknesses of Lodestar. Whereas the earlier books had cliff-hangers, they also came to reasonable conclusions. Lodestar seems to be more of an interim book, setting up a situation which is completely unresolved when the book ends. The threads which Flynn does wrap up tend to be tied off in a quick, almost off hand manner.
While Lodestar was as good a novel as Firestar or Rogue Star, the nearly complete change of focus which Flynn perpetrates tends to catch the reader off guard. Standing on its own, without the rest of the series, Lodestar would be a good, although unfinished story. Taken in light of the rest of the series, Lodestar seems a trifle out of place.
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