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Icarus Hunt
Timothy Zahn
Bantam Spectra Books, 362 pages

Icarus Hunt
Timothy Zahn
Timothy Zahn's SF career began by selling SF stories to Analog magazine while he was a physics grad student at the University of Illinois. When his thesis advisor died, he decided to write full-time. He started with hard SF, writing the Cobra series of military SF novels. In 1984, he won a Hugo for his novella "Cascade Point." His writing has a distinctly humanistic touch, so it seems obvious to some that Theodore Sturgeon was an early influence. Zahn is perhaps best-known as one of the original authors commissioned to write novels in the Star Wars realm.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Star Wars: Specter of the Past
Timothy Zahn Interview
Another Timothy Zahn Interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

Smuggler Jordan McKell feels certain his pseudonymous employer hasn't told him everything about the mysterious sealed cargo he's supposed to pilot to Earth. And sure enough, before McKell can even blast off, things heat up. First he's detained by the port authorities as a suspected murderer. Then his employer disappears, leaving him with a note, a cash box full of wages, and a hastily assembled crew of mismatched humans and aliens flying the strangest looking ship McKell has ever seen.

Things can only get worse -- so naturally they do. After the death of a crew member, McKell realizes that he has a murderer on board, and then he discovers that every government in the quadrant is in pursuit of the Icarus. Before long he begins to suspect that his cargo could change the future of the galaxy -- and now it's his responsibility.

The opening chapters of Icarus Hunt promise a strong mystery/suspense novel, and indeed this book does not disappoint. Timothy Zahn rockets the reader along, lobbing plot twists at every turn. The characters are stock, yet well drawn and entertaining. I especially enjoyed McKell's partner, Ixil -- an alien whose two symbiotic pet 'ferrets' act as his extra eyes and ears.

Zahn has written a number of Star Wars novels, and Icarus Hunt reads as though it was originally outlined for the Star Wars series (with Han Solo and Chewbacca as protagonists?), and then the set dressings were changed slightly to make it more mainstream. But who cares if the technology is WWII with blinking lights, and every spaceport has a Star Wars bar scene? Well, I didn't. I got swept right along.

This is a terrific airplane book or a good cure for a rainy day.

Copyright © 2001 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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