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Second Star

(Star Svensdotter #1)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  866 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Earth's first space colony is overrun by spacepirates, politicians and saboteurs. One person dedicates her life to keeping her beloved colony safe: Esther "Star" Svensdotter. She's dealt with all kinds of human troublemakers, but the rules change when the colony receives its first contact from aliens.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 1st 1991 by Ace
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  866 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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I gave this book a shot on the word of an Alaskan friend who's a fan of Stabenow's work - though I think she likes the mysteries, not this stuff. Maybe those are better. I certainly hope so, because this book just wavers back and forth between 'mediocre' and 'terrible', and even for a first novel it strikes me as weak.

The one strength of the novel - despite Stabenow's introduction explaining that she was worried most about getting it wrong - is actually the scientific research that went into it;
Dava Stewart
Nov 29, 2011 rated it liked it
As usual in a Dana Stabenow story, the characters make the story enjoyable in Second Star. There were a couple of things that bugged me a bit: the characters had to work too hard to explain what things were for and who people are. I hate when characters say things to each other so that the reader knows what's going on that people would never actually say in real life. I would never say to my daughter, "When your dad gets home from working at Push Hard Lumber, where he has worked for eleven years ...more
Carolyn F.
Audible Audiobook & Kindle book

Marguerite Gavin did a great job on the book I love sci-fi and if you throw in a romance, it's even better. I'm planning on reading more of this series.
Stabenow builds a very interesting world where this planet has reached its sell by date and off earth stations are being built for colonization. The resources come from the Moon and asteroid belts, the projects are expected to pay back their start up costs with interest, and no one is expecting Utopia, just a place they can safely call home. Where the book falls very short is that there's way too much telling in the first half - literal telling of characters explaining things to each other that ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I love first contact stories. And this one is grand! I never knew that Stabenow wrote any sci fi. Apparently she didn't write much of it and this one is introduced with apologies re errors of science, which would matter more if I had been in the mood for hard-science sci-fi than I was. I read for character and story and Stabenow provided both with room to spare. I couldn't put this down. Not at all.
J.L. Dobias
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelf-003
Second Star (Star Svensdotter Book 1) By Dana Stabenow

Perhaps the title of this comes from everyone's favorite quote from Peter Pan by James M. Barrie.
"Second to the right," said Peter, "and then straight on till morning."

And then; perhaps making use of the often added Star. "Second Star to the right, and straight on till morning."

Stronger evidence; is that this quote shows up in the book.

I've always loved Robert A. Heinlein all the way from his juvenile series of space novels to his controversi
Chris Wolak
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm not an experienced reader of sci-fi, but I love Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mystery series so when I stumbled across a free e-copy of Second Star I had to give it a try. You can download it free here: (I just checked today--12/4/2011--and it is still free, as are the first books in Stabenow's two mystery series which I highly recommend.)

Although I'm a great admirer of NASA and think we need to do more with space exploration, reading sci-fi tends to shut
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I definitely understand why this first science fiction novel by one of my favorite authors sank without a trace when it was first published. Star Svensdotter is in charge of getting ELLFIVE, an artificial star, ready for the first wave of Terran colonists. Between sabotage by anti-colonist terrorists, political intrigue from rival Terran groups, and a possible invasion from non-Terran life forms, Star has her hands full. I had a hard time keeping the story straight. There was too much technical ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A good adventure story with a couple of minor weaknesses. The basic premise is that mankind has done a rush job of hurrying into space after receiving an apparent SETI message. The building of an L-5 colony, mining endeavors in the asteroid belt, a lunar colony and a Martian outpost all result in a remarkably short time, coinciding with major political turmoil on Earth. What could possibly go wrong? Well, there are the effects of the radically changing world view on religion, philosophy, politic ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good old fashion, Heinlein'sk science fiction novel. The best way to mentally approach this novel is as an alternate-history science fiction story.

Imagine an event happened in the 80's that jump started our drive into space, where we didn't have the lost 30+ years we have now, but instead drove the world into space to stay, with perminate bases on the Moon, Mars and L5 (where this story is based).

There's conflict, love, fights and loss... with a dash of aliens thrown in too.

If you like
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-series
Plenty of similarities to "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and a few to Star Trek: the Next Generation. Quite a few characters in this book, most of whom are fairly flat. The story was good, if a bit predictable. The science seems pretty accurate, but it's been a while since I read about colonies in space. Overall I enjoyed the story and will read the next one in the series. 3½ stars.

Despite the author being a woman of genre fiction, this is not one of the books I am reading for that challenge in
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Darlene by: kindle freebie
Oh my. No plot, no problem? Trying to be Asimov or Heinlein without the machismo? Ancient science? Strong Fem main character seemed only to be impressed with her own mind. Only one character I liked and she came and went somewhere about 70% into the book. I gave an extra point for trying to be a sci-fi. Sorry. Wish I could say more for it. I wanted to be able to share this with my sci-fi friends but nah. Don't bother.
Laz the Sailor
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
I just re-read this book, and while I enjoyed the space-opera feel, and all the references to the Masters (Heinlein et al), it really isn't that strong. It's almost YA, but they'd never get the references to past authors and astronauts.

These books were Sttabenow's firs efforts, and I am glad that she wrote them, as it started her off into her Alaskan mysteries with Kate Shugak.
Kathy Piselli
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
There were some negative reports about this series, so naturally I had to see for myself. I have no problem with a writer trying out different genres and characters, and Stabenow is far from the first to write science fiction in order to have a woman in charge (though this one is not too far in the future; I note women still are responsible for birth control). There are avoidable flaws to this book, sure. Stabenow likes a diverse range of cultures to be represented and they range from clunky to ...more
Bee Halton
I prefer her crime novels

#amreading: I am a huge fan of Dana Stabenow ever since I first laid eyes on her Kate Shugak series. The first Star Svensdotter book needed a while though to catch my enthusiasm.

Much too much science in this fiction at first in my opinion. No idea why I kept on reading. Well, I have an idea: It is another of her enigmatic female main characters that just kept me glued to the book.

After Stabenow has described the space world in the book in all those scientific and Latin e
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like her guts

I liked the story, even if it was a bit too dry for my sci-fi. What I especially like is Dana Stabenows truth. She thought she wasn't smart enough as an author, and she has a number of mysteries under her belt, to write a space story. Dana had the passion and need, so she went ahead with penning a story anyway. It worked! Thank you!
I will be picking up book 2 and saying hello to Star again.
Deborah D.
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Space opera, twists on our space program and a struggle for Independence from Earth

The characters were varied, not cookie cutter.
I was surprised how near-future the setting is.
A few character back stories surprised me, which is as expected from Dana Stabenow!

Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable. Sure, there's exposition dumps, but I read David Weber, and this is nothing to that. Plus, I really liked the world built by those dumps, and I'm glad there are two more Svensdotter books to go.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't like this at all. Feels like there's chunks of the story missing (including a decent prologue to set the scene), the characters are thin and watery...
Probably my least favourite read so far this year.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More quirky characters in a new world

Dana Stabenow introduced another range of loveable, quirky characters in this series, as well as a new world. As always the descriptions are great and she builds a world you can immerse yourself in.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like reading about oil riggers in orbit, this is gritty and realistic in setting and characters. One serious drawback: a plot only kicks in after the halfway stage. A twist near the end gets one thinking. Some fresh outlooks.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
I listened for a little over an hour and just couldn't get into the book. Narrator Gavin sounds an awful lot like Kate Shugak and Stabenow's reference to Alaska is really evident: Chechako spacemen? So, I'll put the book away for awhile and maybe start the series again later.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not really a fan of harder scifi; I don't care at all about "how", really. So that aspect of this book is pretty lost on me, but it seemed solid enough. I did, however, love the story, and I will probably keep reading the series.
Nicole Green
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
so basic and naive character development.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like all of Dana Stabenow's books I really enjoyed this however I have a niece the same age as the girl in the book and I could not imagine her doing any of the things this character gets up to!
Susan Coley
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: dana-stabenow, 2019
Second Star is a good story. Lots of space jargon and technical space information is thrown in and it detracts from the story.
Mike Finn
I bought this book because I'm going through withdrawal after having finished the twenty books in Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series and because I was curious to see how Dana Stabenow, would handle Science Fiction.

On her website, Dana Stabenow says she wrote "Second Star"

"in response to the Challenger blowing up, a story about a space program that worked. Rage is a great motivator. "
The result is a book, in the tradition of Heinlein and Niven, that is in love with the dream of space exploration
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book
Having read all of the books in author Dana Stabenow's 2 Alaska series PLUS her Coast Guard standalones, I decided to take the plunge and check out her science fiction trilogy.

Different. On many levels.

The book (in my case, the audio book version) falls into a convention common to science fiction and fantasy books – the simple acceptance of some aspect(s) of the characters' reality that is not shared by the reader. Sometimes the explanation follows shortly, others it comes eventually, and occasi
I first tried reading Dana Stabenow's "Second Star" almost two years ago and had to stop at the 20% mark: I just couldn't take it any more. This time around, I forced my way through it. Was it worth it? No, not really. I've got three issues with it. First, there's not much of a plot. It's mostly a lot of things happening one after another with no apparent purpose. When you get to the end, something interesting has happened. But, it doesn't come across as something the characters were aiming for. ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm trying to get into sci-fi books more and more, and figured since I recognized Dana Stabenow as a mystery writer, I'd give her a try (even though I've never read her mystery novels.) I didn't realize when I began this how old it was (1991), or that it was her first book.

Taking that all into account, I wanted to like this book. In fact, I really enjoyed the characters, although there were so many that I had a hard time keeping track of everyone except about 6 characters. I also felt that the
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Dana Stabenow was born in Anchorage and raised on 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska. She knew there was a warmer, drier job out there somewhere.

Other books in the series

Star Svensdotter (3 books)
  • A Handful Of Stars (Star Svensdotter, # 2)
  • Red Planet Run (Star Svensdotter #3)

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