The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 27 January 2000

Stardust Bound

by Karen Cadora

It is the distant future, and a series of ecological and technological catastrophes have decimated life on earth. The last one hundred million people live in a few domed cities around the world, kept alive by an enormous corporation known as UniTech. In this desperate world, scientific research not required for the restoration of the planet is declared illegal. Quincy, a young woman who has nurtured a contraband interest in astronomy arrives at the La Vista observatory in Chile (which sounds a lot like CTIO). It is an antique, but the only functioning observatory in the world. Her mentor, Saskia, has provided Quincy with an excitement and fascination of the stars. When Quincy arrives at this "abandoned" observatory, she finds a vibrant community of about fifty people who are also drawn to this romantic science. All but one of these people are women. To Quincy (and, evidently, to the author) the vision of an observatory run solely by women seems to be a kind of fantasy. Indeed, today, most observatories do seem to be rather testosterone-laden environments. Two plots unfold at La Vista: in one, Quincy is seduced by an energetic and firey young woman with hidden secrets; in the other, the observatory ends up entangled in intrigue with UniTech. There is a powerful political undercurrent in both plots. The romance is focused on the details of the sexual encounters and lacks any real emotional interest. The intrigue with UniTech involves a fairly large number of plot twists for such a short novel. Nevertheless, the book has a certain interest. The viewpoint of the science is refreshingly radical, if a bit extreme at times.

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