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The Outback Stars (The Outback Stars #1)

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  612 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Lieutenant Jodenny Scott is a hero. She has the medals and the scars to prove it.

She's cooling her heels on Kookaburra, recovering from injuries sustained during the fiery loss of her last ship, the Yangtze, and she's bored -- so bored, in fact, that she takes a berth on the next ship out. That's a mistake. The Aral Sea isn't anyone's idea of a get-well tour.

Jodenny's hand
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Tor Books
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Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonRevelation Space by Alastair ReynoldsOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Excellent Space Opera
95th out of 289 books — 1,607 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Host by Stephenie MeyerCatching Fire by Suzanne CollinsMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsFinders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair
Best Sci-Fi/Futuristic Romance
135th out of 961 books — 1,037 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,562)
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Angie
The Outback Stars is military scifi meets space opera meets Australian mythology. If you are a fan of Elizabeth Moon, Linnea Sinclair, or Ann Aguirre, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one. Specifically, it reminded me in many ways of the wonderful Games of Command. So if you're a fan of that book like I am, this one might be for you.

Lieutenant Jodenny Scott is in a bad way. One of the sole survivors of the destruction of the Yangtze, she's spent months in forced recuperation and can take
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Cathy
This book was very clearly written by someone who has been in the military. The detailed day-to-day life of a career officer is, well, detailed. There are a lot of minor character names, acronyms and titles thrown around, making it occasionally hard to follow. I could have done without about 1/2 of the first 1/2 of the book. But it certainly shows how important support services are to the military; many if not most jobs aren't glamorous, but they are necessary. I'm not sure why Jodenny was so ea ...more
Hallie
This one was close to being a real winner, as I very much enjoyed the more-merchant-marine-than-military space adventure, mixed as it was with a mystery. Three things got in the way of my liking though.

1) The use of Aboriginal belief was quite unsettling - it was treated respectfully (in that the massive injustices done to native peoples weren't overlooked), but I'm just not sure it should have been there at all.

2) More in my mind as actually wrong, was the line, repeated several times, about ho
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Terence
Sep 20, 2009 Terence rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marsupials on LSD?
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Actual rating: 1.75 - didn't "hate it" but it's not really "OK"

Yawn...just, yawn.

There's nothing terribly "wrong" about this book but there's nothing awfully "right" about it either. The story takes place in an indeterminate future where the Earth has suffered a largely unexplained ecological catastrophe (the Debasement). Humans have discovered what appears to be an alien transportation system (the Alcheringa) that connects seven inhabitable worlds. Team Space, a quasi-military organization, mon
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Janice (Janicu)
I think if you are a fan of Elizabeth Moon you will like Sandra McDonald's books, particularly because of the military aspects. If you like Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre you may like this as well. The author was an officer in the U.S. Navy and her knowledge of the day to day workings of he military seems to really show in this novel. In The Outback Stars Jodenny has to deal with a mix of personalities both below and above her in the chain of command. Not everyone is a hard worker and trying to ...more
Jessica Subject
I was given all three of the books in this series from one of my friends. She thought I would enjoy the series because of my love for science fiction romance. And she was right. The first book, Outback Stars, is a wonderful story about a lieutenant who is struggling to get over a catastrophe on the last ship she served on that killed almost everyone on board, including her closest friends. Now, she has swindled her way onto the Aral Sea, though many think she is not yet ready to serve. She becom ...more
Peejay Who Once Was Minsma
I actually avoided this book for quite some time because I'm just not into military sf. Then someone whose judgment I trust said it was a good read and I checked it out some more. It turns out that it's a mystery story and a fraternization love story, combined with Aboriginal Australian mythology and mysticism, and it just happens to be set in the Australian Navy in space.

Ms. McDonald isn't the most visual writer out there—I still have only the vaguest notion of what her space ship looks like in
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Viridian5
Although The Outback Stars didn't bore me, it didn't pull me in either. The romantic subplot also annoyed me, partly because it never felt organic, as if it happened because the plot demanded it happen. (It could also be because I felt that the romantic subplot involving a strong military-trained woman and a man an entire ship used as a scapegoat was so much better and more believable in C.J. Cherryh's Rimrunners than in The Outback Stars.)

Pulling Aborginal beliefs into a science fiction story i
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Carolyn F.
Okay, I hate the cover. But the book was really good. Jodenny Scott survives her previous ship's explosion and after a few months in rehab is assigned to a new ship that's full of belligerent, lazy workers. She tries to bring her section up to snuff. Terry Myell is one of the workers in her section who was falsely accused of rape and is trying to finish his term of service and leave without getting killed. Together they find out there's more than laziness going on. The new worlds are patterned a ...more
D.w.
What I find interesting about Ms. McDonald's story is that so much of it is centered around the structure of the lower ranks of a very large crewed ship with a pseudo military organization. I have read and enjoyed such books before and with a reliance perhaps too much on acronyms and a sleuthing tale that might be a bit predictable, it is a tale that works.

I give Ms. McDonald high marks and take off some points for the deep Aboriginal subplot that emerges when tied to how this universes travel
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Kammera
I picked up McDonald's 2nd novel in this series BEFORE I read this one, but it really didn't spoil anything. I like McDonald's style of writing and I especially enjoyed the military aspects of the book combined with the concepts of planet hopping using the Spheres. The spheres reminded me of those big mysterious heads on Easter Island. In the book, there are the Mother Sphere,Father Sphere and Child sphere always clustered in some configuation on different planets. The mystery of these in the bo ...more
Tim
Interesting book with good characters. Reminds me of Sassinak or Once A Hero. Starts out a little slow, feeling a bit like a reality show - interesting but a little bit dry. It introduces a mystery that is a puzzle which keeps the reader interested. Mid-way it picks up by expanding the mystery and plopping another puzzle on top of it. Decent story, with an nice spin on space-board life. Odd, out-of-place, low-tech things intrude in a very high tech story.
Shara
Part military SF, part space opera, and part science fiction romance, it's a very enjoyable read, with a plot that I thought would be simple but became rather complex. Definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series, and lucky for me, I'll get to read it very soon. :)[return][return]For the full review, which does contain spoilers, please click here: http://calico-reaction.livejournal.co...
Dan
Could have really used a list of characters and a sketch or diagram of the giant spaceship on which most of the action occurs. A organizational chart for the ship's crew wouldn't have hurt either. It's a good story with several interesting and well-written characters, but there were a lot of times when I wasn't sure who was who, or who they worked for, or where--and all of those things are important in this book.
Anastasia
I started reading this book at lunch, and didn't come back to work until I finished the book 4 hours later. Really reminded me of Kristine Smith's "Code of Conduct" - for making something as dull as supplies and documents sound interesting and important (clues to a conspiracy!)Actually, there's quite a bit of similarity between the two books. Very enjoyable scifi.
Laurie Green
My top-rated science fiction romance (SFR) novel. An imaginative future where Australia took the lead in space exploration. This story is filled with great characters, realistic military culture, imaginative technology, an alien mystery, conspiracy, suspense, aboriginal mytthology and a compelling love story. Terry Myell gets my vote as Most Fascinating SFR Hero.
Patricia
I loved this book. The way Sandra McDonald wove in Aboriginal mythology was fascinating. I hope she writes a sequel to it.
Lorri-lynne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MB
The military viewpoint and interactions between the characters was the most interesting to me. I think Jo-Denny seemed a little unreal in how perfect her handling of the losers when she took over their command. She was almost too evolved and sophisticated of a character and experienced very little growth over the time of the novel.

The sci-fi setting (i.e. how the universe 'worked' and how travel between planets worked--including the history and technology) was never explained very well. (What w
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Niall519
*giggle* Barely two-stars, but I just didn't hate it enough for a one- or no-star rating. It's not quite a romance, not quite a crime novel, and not quite military SF. It's probably closer to the latter than anything else, and the author does seem to have caught the day-to-day bureacracy and social issuess of military life that I observed as a civilian contractor reasonably well. I'm not sure that made for riveting reading, but at least Sandra McDonald appeared to be writing what she knows there ...more
Paula
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julia
Aug 22, 2008 Julia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who love Bujold, military sf
Shelves: science-fiction
This sf novel takes place on an Australian freighter ship the Aral Sea and is about Lieutenant Jodenny Scott who is placed on this unhappy ship in its most unhappy department: Underway Stores. There’s no replicator technology on this ship— if someone needs a new jumpsuit, or wrench or plumbing supplies this department stores it, finds it, inventories it.

A sergeant on her ship is Terry Myell and he is quite capable; including of protecting lower ranking sailors from bullies. This ship has severa
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Jess Saxton
This book actually remains one of my favorite forays into military SF. Sandra McDonald, having been in the navy, understands and illustrates the day-to-day workings of the military. I never thought I'd be interested in a military Sci-fi book that doesn't actually involve any fighting, but I like the slice of life genre, and I found both Jodenny and Terry to be interesting characters.

The backdrop of Aboriginal mythology and the mystery aboard the Aral Sea add a depth to a story that would otherwi
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Myz
I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately it let me down since it's not terrible but it's not great.

While it did have some rather interesting bits in the 1st and 2nd books I feel the 3rd was the best and I guess it can be explained by this being McDonald's 1st book.

Long story short books 1 and 2 can be rough reads but have enough to keep a person interested and the 3rd book is an all round nice read which leaves me hoping there will be a 4th.

The rest of my review below this mainly encompa
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Kate
I wavered on how to rate this book, because I didn't like it that much, but I did like it enough to try the second book.

It is an odd book. It is military sci-fi, but certainly not space opera because nobody is fighting aliens or even other humans. It is mostly about life on a giant spaceship, and also some dreams involving Australian aboriginal traditions, which may not be dreams. It's at the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, which for the most part works.

The part, though, that I di
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Christina
This was my first SF romance, & I've decided it won't be my last. Nor my last Sandra McDonald book!

McDonald has definitely done her homework. She knows the inner workings of navy life. The politics, regulations, sexual tension, gossip.

A third or so of the way through, I was beginning to flag. The book was entirely character driven, which wasn't bad at all, but having read some of the blurbs I was waiting for the promised action. Once I got there, it all fit. Without the first portion of the
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Sherwood Smith
This is space action razzle dazzle at its most fun. The book opens with Jodenny Scott in the middle of a terrible star ship disaster. It's not a drill, and not a mock disaster—it's the real thing as she works to save her ship …months later she's mostly rehabilitated and healed, and anxious to get right back into space. She doesn't want to talk about the Yangstze disaster, or the medal she was given—and especially not about the crew friends and loves she lost. She's sent to the Aral Sea which has ...more
Jamie
2.5 stars. While this is just an OK read, it does have Australians in Space, and it's perhaps worth reading for that aspect. The book is sort of military sci-fi with a hefty dose of romance novel. It seems that some Australians discovered an interstellar transport system left behind by long-disappeared aliens, or possibly by mythical Aboriginal spirits. They call the system the Alcheringa (there are lots of references to Aboriginal mythology) and they’re using it to colonize other worlds. The pl ...more
Jessica McReaderpants
Ahhh Space Ship Navy life, the life for me. This book kind of seemed like two books smashed together, two story lines twisted around each other in a non-fluid way. One story is space ship life in the navy the struggles of a woman who has gone through a horrible space-ship-blowing-up tragedy on her last ship and how she is trying to take a slipshod department on the ship and turn it around to a cracker jack bunch. Then there is the crazy storyline that just kind of is shoved in there about these ...more
Ezri
I'm not really sure what to think of this book. I loved the female lead and found myself wanting to strangle her male counterpart (and unappealing romantic interest), and about page 200 I caught myself reaching for my phone to play games instead of reading.
There's nothing actually wrong with the book, or the writing, and the story does pick up and solidify into something more interesting about page 240, but large chunks of the book drug on impossibly slow.
I loved the military parts, and the sp
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Sandra McDonald spent 8 years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, battling frostbite, boonie pigs, and the perils of midrats. Later, as a Hollywood assistant, she inhabited a lovely cubicle at CBS Television City and skipped through the halls at Disney Studios in Burbank. She currently lives in Florida, writing award-winning science fiction and adventure stories for adults and kids. She ho ...more
More about Sandra McDonald...

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The Outback Stars (3 books)
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