Review of Children of the Old Stars

Las Crucen's Sci-fi Offers a Satisfying Trip to the Future

Review by S. Derrickson Moore
From the Las-Cruces Sun-News
July 18, 2001
Note: Review refers to the first edition—contact and publisher information out of date

Set about ten centuries in the future, close to home and in galaxies a few 'jumps" away, Children of the Old Stars (Xlibris Corporation) presents an engrossing vision of the future.

Las Crucen David Lee Summers has created a fascinating, imaginative and very entertaining cast of characters and worlds.

John Mark Ellis, an intrepid if somewhat quirky rugged individualist, short-circuits his promising galactic navy career after a run-in with a mysterious space vessel known as the Cluster.

After his first encounters with the Cluster, a long simmering war on a distant planet is resolved and Ellis finds himself wondering if the vessel is a source of good or evil in the galaxy.

He resigns his commission and joins a private corporation's mapping vessel in an effort to find the truth.

Joining in the expedition is another veteran of a Cluster encounter ... a colonel-turned fanatic evangelist who is convinced the Cluster is God incarnate.

What could be an all-too-familiar galactic quest becomes a fun, involving and suspenseful adventure in the hands of Summers, who makes both science fact and creative speculations into the stuff of vibrant adventure.

Unlike many science-oriented writers, Summers also has a gift for creating very human characters.

Ellis, in fact, may be a little too human and contemporary in some of his character traits.

It's a little tough to believe that one of the few minds the solar system sensitive enough to communicate with very alien intelligence could be insensitive enough to subject his space mates to second hand cigar smoke in the confines of a small space ship. (It's also disheartening to think that supposedly intelligent human life forms would still be addicted to tobacco that many centuries in the future.) While such foibles may not be politically correct or make spectacular sense, they do make for interesting reading.

Ellis comes equipped with emotional baggage (his late father died after an encounter with the Cluster) and a mom who is quite a character. She's a bright, independent woman with a passionate Latin lover in tow. She manages to uncover the solar system connections of the Cluster.

Her research involves everything from sophisticated computer skills to breaking and entering ... and cracking highly unusual computer access codes.

Whatever you think about possible traitors within our own solar system, you have to love a species that chooses dance moves as computer passwords…and admire the author that thinks up such a fetching concept.

Summers is an astronomer, a consultant for NMSU's astronomy department, editor of the sci-fi anthology magazine Hadrosaur Tales, and an editorial consultant for El Pas Community College's literary magazine Chrysalis.

His short fiction has been featured in several magazines.

Summers also offers some haunting visions of our how planet at the dawn of the next millennium. Earth has become a sad, impoverished, polluted and overcrowded place.

Residents have become so stressed by overpopulation that many even eschew sex. (Naturally, Ellis is an exception. He has a romance with his new ship's admiral. She's another interesting and colorful character.)

It's a fun read and a satisfying adventure in itself.

Children will also whet sci-fi fans' appetites for the third volume in the trilogy, Heirs of the New Earth, currently in the works.

Children of the Old Stars, is "set in the same universe" as Summers' first novel, The Pirates of Sufiro, which is being published in a new edition, also from Xlibris. The books are available through regional bookstores, or Xlibris…