When I bought this book five years ago (along with another in the series), I said it was probably not related to Starwolf #1: The Weapon from Beyond. And so it was, but one can be forgiven from making the mistake. After all, both series are about space pirates with special abilities. But the books themselves are twenty years apart (1967 versus this paperback’s 1989 publication date).
It is the second book of the series (although the four are not numbered). Many millennia from now, the human race that spread from Terra are at a genetic bottleneck–kind of like Idiocracy, bad genetics and defects are overrunning the population, so the Union has battles other offshoot races to maintain its preeminence in the galaxy. The Starwolves are a race of warriors, four-armed and hardened for battle. Their leader, Velmeran, who triumphed in the first book, has risen a bit, but he still leads his pack of fighters from his mother’s ship, an 18,000-year-old sentient battleship. The Terrans, after their stinging defeat in the previous book, create a super-carrier and a whole new way of doing battle with the Starwolves, and then they hunt Velmeran.
It’s a pretty good book with a couple of different arcs to it, including a rest stop on a safe planet where Velmeran disguises himself as a human trader and picks up an ally who would like to have been his lover but is just happy to get into space; initial contact with the Challenger, the Terran ship; and then infiltration of the Challenger itself.
So one can see, if one’s looking, some blending of elements of Battlestar Galactica with Star Wars, but they’re broad enough themes to not really detract from the story. As the book progresses, we discover more and more that Velmeran is a mutant Starwolf with telepathic abilities, including some glimpse of the future, telepathy, and eventually the ability to teleport. So he runs the risk of being Velmarysue more than a character just a step outside the race that the reader can identify with.
Still, not a bad bit of space opera with some interesting pieces to it.
Unfortunately, the other book I have in the series is the fourth book, so I’ll let a little time elapse between them to prevent myself from getting whipsawed with the additional passage of time and events.
These two books were in mint shape when I bought them, which made me wonder if anyone else has read them before me (I did buy them used). I was going to annoint myself Spinebreaker for damaging the book by reading it, as was Star Trek 11 when I read it this year. However, this paperback weathered the reading well, and although the book has clearly been opened, the spine is uncracked. Which is pretty good for a thirty-five-year-old paperback.