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400 Billion Stars

(Four Hundred Billion Stars #1)

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Dorothy Yoshida is a telepath, and a really rather good one at that. She's also a scientist, and when a small planet begins to manifest some unusual signs she is sent to investigate. The planet is more than it seems, and on further investigation the scientists begin to suspect it has been artificially altered. But despite their suspicions the only life they can detect is o ...more
Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published (first published May 1988)
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3.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  327 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-sf, sf
Baffling that quality, interesting, thought-provoking Hard SF like this barely scrapes an avg rating of 3, when people are dropping 5 stars on garbage like Leviathan Wakes as if derivate sub-Firefly video-game plot aping space adventures are going out of fashion. I'm reading the sequel Eternal Light and if anything it is the better novel - yet it's languishing at 2.89 at last check. Don't think I haven't noticed a similar pattern with M. John Harrison and Ian Watson as well, because I have - I c ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am following up on my resolution to read old SF books that have been languishing on my shelves for years. In this case, what should have been a painful duty became real pleasure. I read other McAuley's books and include a discussion of his novel "Of the Fall" in my book "Science Fiction, Alien Encounters, and Ethics of Posthumanism". But this one, his first novel, is much better. It is beautifully written, has interesting and mysterious aliens, and an explanation that does not disappoint. The ...more
Clare O'Beara
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Dorthy Yoshida, astronomer, is commandeered from her work because she has a psychic talent and sent to another planet, which orbits a red giant star - quite closely, as these suns are not very hot, meaning that the sun fills the sky almost all the time. In the past this planet was tidally locked so someone has restarted its spin - somehow.

There's an enemy attacking Terran colonists in another system and the officers fear whoever planoformed this planet and seeded it with life, is the same enemy.
Mohammed Abdi Osman
This book started very good,promising but got weaker by the word after that. The characters became robotic,shallow,the story non-existing.

I still find the author interesting after having read some really good short stories by him but this novel was too much debut novel flaws.

Chris Nagy
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is I think McAuley's first novel and if so it is quite a debut.
It is a little slow moving and the plot a tad vague, but the future history that is described is fascinating. And the aliens are very well imagined throwing you into a completely different world.
There is a fair amount of astronomical speculation and explanation, but not overly so. It's not a lecture. It's part of the story so it's necessary.
Also, the protagonist is a young Japanese astronomer who happens to be slightly telepathi
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very compelling story - can't say much without giving the mystery away. Definitely worth the read, the science part is full on but comprehensible with a basic familiarity of astronomical terms. My only criticism is that there is too much information dumped in the final reveal and some of the book does feel like filler once you look back after knowing the outcome. Still, a good balance of character and story development.
Abhinav Neelam
Ah, so I'm finally done with this book.
I know that isn't a promising start to this review, and that's deliberate, because I didn't like this book too much.

First, before you accuse me of prejudice against hard SF - you're right, but not in the way you think. I open a hard SF book *fully* expecting to like it, and this book was apparently one, so if there's any bias it's *not* towards criticism.

The plot summary spoke of an alien race that had the power to kickstart a tidally locked planet into rot
Simon Mcleish
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in January 2001.

McAuley's auspicious debut, this novel, won awards, which were well deserved. It is an imaginative and original piece of science fiction.

Humankind is engaged in a war throughout the galaxy with mysterious, high tech aliens, who attacked an unmanned survey ship. No alien has ever been seen, because they always self-destruct their ships when in danger of capture. There is a small clue to their identity, as another survey has discovered a planet
Thomson Kneeland
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
After having read a few other sci-fi novels recently as well as an attempt at John Saul (a pure joke in writing!), it was refreshing to be reminded of good writing, vocabulary, and well thought out universes. Though perhaps the full story of 400 Billion Stars was not the greatest space opera every written, I was enthralled to the end, and like life, the story was not topped with a climactic conclusion in which the mysteries of the universe are revealed. It's an impressive debut for Paul McCauley ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Empathic heroine, insecure military, ancient aliens. Not a bad mix. I appreciate the recognition that not everyone in the future is anglo.
Ubik 2.0
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
aggiornamento vecchio libro letto chissà quando
Roddy Williams
‘Dorthy Yoshida is a telepath and an astronomer. because of her talent she is sent to investigate the mystery of a small planet orbiting a red dwarf star. Although it appears to have been planoformed, shaped by intelligent life, its only advanced life-forms are creatures called herders. They are known to possess primitive intelligence, while the slug-like herbivores they shepherd have only a rudimentary nervous system.

Could these life-forms really be connected with The Enemy, the unknown entity
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny how the reviews with 4 or 5 stars are just synopses or rants about other books being bad. This won't change it, because I didn't like this book all that much.

The book has five chapters, of which I quite liked the first two.
Chapter one introduced us to the world, the conflict, and the characters, chapter two thrusts us deep into the world, throwing interesting challenges at our protagonist.
Then, in all of chapter three and most of chapter four, we and the protagonist are wandering aimlessly
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
400 billion is the estimated number of stars in our galaxy. Somewhere, a small planet orbits a giant red star. Bathed in sickly red light and inhabited by primitive life forms, at first it appears uninteresting to humans. However, its unusual rotation rate and an alien building on the surface hint that there is more than meets the eye, and explorer teams are sent to investigate.

The first chapters are good, presenting life in a small outpost, with a tense and gripping atmosphere. This is followed
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
The author covers a lot of ground (and space) in his books with wide ranging results. This book features a heroine who can read alien minds (kind of, sometimes). She lands on a world to figure out who the enemy is because nobody else can figure it out. There must be an enemy--it is an alien world, right? The sentence structure was often unusual--maybe a British thing? In an apparent effort to be mystical, the wordage sometimes didn't make sense to me.
Another book with a good idea at its core, but where the execution is lacking... as if the author lost interest somewhere during the project. The lack of sympathetic characters would influence my rating negatively anyway, but the plodding picaresque story line followed by an overly hasty denouement provided lukewarm enjoyment at best. Which is a pity because the underlying ideas are worthy of a good space opera. Oh well.
Paolo Colombo
Bella la trama e l'ambientazione, ma troppo lento nel plot, con pochi colpi di scena. Pare che l'autore la tiri un po' troppo per le lunghe, con digressioni e descrizioni minuziose degli ambienti naturali nulla aggiungono, anzi addormentano il lettore. Poteva essere un buon racconto lungo piuttosto che un romanzo.
Dennis Thompson
A disappointing book, which always seemed to promise something ahead, some big reveal or such but never delivered. The characters were largely uninteresting, the suspense never appeared for me and when the book finished I did not really have any thoughts to go away with and ponder, there was no wow factor anywhere
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Old fashioned hard Scifi. A psychological study in the reasons individuals and even societies develop certain survival mechanisms. In places it is reminiscent of Asimov. I also get the feeling that if I was more familiar with Shakespeare's sonnets I would recognize story parallels. If you prefer your Scifi on the light side with more action and less character introspection then skip this one.
The Frahorus
Una misteriosa torre si innalza in un pianeta dove è presente una spedizione umana di ricerca. E ben presto verranno loro rivelati i segreti degli Antichi... Storia non di facile lettura, piena di termini scientifici, ma godibile.
Rennegade Hunter
I liked the writing style, but unfortunately, the plot just didn't reach me. Although, anyone who likes this genre definitely should read it.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Difficult and unclear read, lives up to the name hard sci-fi in being hard to enjoy.
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
2 stars for a book I finished and then wished I hadn't. Whatever it is with Paul J McAuley and I, no matter how well awarded or reviewed his books, I just don't like reading them.
Jon Mountjoy
Just didn't have that "zing"
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Very alien environment with alien mysteries.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
2.5. I liked the bit with the spaceships -_-
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reminds me of "classic" SciFi: inscrutable aliens, Earth Navy and the big reveal at the end.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, crap
Not bad - perhaps I was expecting a bit more...
rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2015
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name Paul McAuley previously wrote under

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Four Hundred Billion Stars (3 books)
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