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The Cruel Stars: A Novel

(The Cruel Stars #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  819 ratings  ·  148 reviews
With a ruthless sect of humanity intent on wiping out their species, five intrepid heroes must outsmart their enemies in this epic sci-fi adventure for fans of The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica.

The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, "species purists" intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. They cut a bloody swath across the stars,
Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Del Rey
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Groucho42 The epilogue was clear: there will be a sequel.

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I love space operas, space books of all sorts so I jumped at the chance to read The Cruel Stars. At first I couldn't get into the book and to be honest I think it was my mood and not the book. There were so many people in the book, I thought I would never get what was going on. That being said, I'm not one hundred percent sure of things that happened, but I got the jist of it and started to love it.

There are five groups of individuals that are going through one thing or another. This is what
Karen’s Library
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Cruel Stars is a military sci-fi space opera along the lines of The Expanse meets Altered Carbon and I really enjoyed it.

In the first chapters we get the POVs of 5 interesting characters: Lucinda, who ships out to her newest assignment on the warship Defiant; Professor McLennan (my personal favorite), the gruff curmudgeon astroarcheologist/historian; Sephina the space pirate (along with her motley lovable crew); 12 year old Princess Alessia; and prisoner Corporal Booker who was on death row
The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, "species purists" intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. They cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing countless people before finally being defeated. Centuries later, this sect has returned, close to the brink of victory. Now five people must work together to stand against the invaders.

3.5 stars.

Going into this book there were a lot of characters and info thrown at the reader, so it took a while to get used to
Peter Tillman
Slow start for the series setup, but a solid beginning to this new Strine-flavored mil-SF space opera series. Once the Sturm come onstage, you'll have no further complaints. No particular fresh ground is broken (so far), but solid meat-and-potatoes reading. As always, read the publishers intro first.

I found the most impressive features of tCS to be the grand cinematic sweep of the book, which can be breathtaking -- and the interplay of the main characters. The ancient fake-Scots Grand Admiral
Christi M
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, netgalley
To me, space opera's are just so much fun. An adventure across an entire galaxy is just so entertaining because it allows you to imagine bigger than what reality is. But while I enjoyed this story, it did have a bumpy beginning for me.

Always on the look out for a new space opera, I was very happy to get a copy of this one to read and review. The book is primarily from 5 different points of views, one of which is the story bad guy, Sturm, although his chapters are more limited than the
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A really promising start that draws comparisons to Peter F. Hamilton and Marko Kloos is let down a bit by turning into just a war between the rest of humanity and a bunch of space Nazis (a term the book even explicitly uses).

The stuff with AIs that can use dimension-folding technology and embed their intelligences in nano-scale wormholes is really cool. As is the battleships making use of the same technology to do a TARDIS-like thing. And the commentary around the "good guys" being not all that
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review.

Thousands of years in the future, humanity has brought space travel to a whole new level and now, for most people, space and space colonies are the only thing they know. As well as new planetary discoveries, technology has advanced to a point when most people don't need to learn skills - they can just download them, and for the more privileged person, death doesn't truly exist - they can be regenerated again and
Lauren Stoolfire
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Cruel Stars is my first John Birmingham novel. It's a space opera that I was really looking forward to, but unfortunately it never quite got into it as much as I was hoping to. There are a lot of characters (there are five perspective characters) and quite a bit going on. I liked the overall story and action once I got into it, but the characters weren't quite what I was hoping for.
Thoroughly entertaining space opera - excellent world building and scenario and some brilliant characters. There are laughs along the way (the hedge trimmer scene lingers in the mind!) as well as heart ache and intense action (lots of dismembered limbs flying around). I really enjoyed it. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoy space opera and was very pleased that netgalley gave me a chance to check out this book. The first few chapters took me a bit to get into - we have five main characters, and I really liked some of their points of view/events a lot more than others. But then things started happening - big things! And from then on, the action never stopped. Looking back, that setup in the first few chapters was necessary, and I absolutely loved how everything came together.
4.5 stars
Liz Barnsley
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this.
It came along just when I needed a bookish adventure and The Cruel Stars was full of adventure. Well and a naked professor, a sarcastic intelligence, a flustered captain and a whole host of bad guys. Plus a princess, a pirate, a hedge trimmer (making me laugh quite a lot) and a few other good guys. I mean really, what’s not to love?
The world building is beautifully done giving you a sense of the scene that lights up the action. A motley group of survivors battling away, the group
Casey Wheeler
Jun 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book was a huge disappointment and a slog to get through. The author tries to present the viewpoints from five different characters without making any of them interesting nor the overall storyline engaging. A number of other reviewers seemed to enjoy this book, but it did not resonate with me in any way.

I received a free Kindle ARC courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would provide an honest review and post it on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it a lot.
I had doubts at first because of the stacking of the points of view (6 of them), but they were balanced enough to avoid frustrations.
The last third of the book, in which the points of view come together, brings a lot of rhythm to the end of the story. In spite of some facilities I found this end successful, it is not so frequent in this kind of saga.
I very much liked the multiple approach of the transhumanism which constitutes the node of the narrative. It's well thought.

Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Grand, epic war story, extremely gruesome and with a few too many pov characters...but also fantastically profane, well cast and choreographed, technologically credible, hilarious at times, and with all sex behind closed doors—so checking off most of my boxes. Hoping sequels won’t be long in coming.

All sorts of choice passages like this:

“I could just kill them,” Coto said. “It would save time later.” “Yeah, good idea, I know, but you kill one of these paleofascist nut jobs and you have to fight
Dark Matter
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DMZ has reviews and author interviews I interviewed John Birmingham it's available on all good podcasting platforms as well as on video.

My review:
Lieutenant Hardy is waiting among the cruel stars while she looks at her reflection, worrying about her off-the-rack dress uniform that does not fit properly. She’s met by a man of slightly lower rank whose motormouth promptly informs her that he’s from a wealthy but not noble
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 / 5 stars

NetGalley furnished me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Cruel Stars is a space opera set in a black-and-white world populated by vibrant and interesting characters. It chronicles the return of an old enemy, once defeated—the Sturm, a radical group of human purists set on purging the galaxy of any they don’t see as genetically pure. Where initially the world seems well-thought out and complete, it quickly becomes clear that the story is set
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Cruel Starts
Author: John Birmingham
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine/Del Rey
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Review Date: April 27, 2019

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“With a ruthless sect of humanity intent on wiping out their species, five intrepid heroes must think like their enemies in this epic sci-fi adventure for fans of The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica.

The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a fun remix of all your favorite sci-fi tropes with a colorful cast of characters and some exciting action sequences. The book takes place over a very short span of time, focusing on a few different characters as a long-dormant enemy launches a surprise attack on this one human-controlled solar system. The book does not stray outside of that solar system, but does imply that similar adventures are occurring at the same time all over the galaxy. It's an interesting choice to introduce ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blood guts and gore. Great action scenes but its got a humorous side as well. The worldbuilding is fun but not unique. Plenty of character POVs however I felt the characterisation lacking. I would have loved less characters and more time with them individually or even the same number of characters but more book ala game of thrones style etc. Good fun space opera but characters just didnt work for me
Nathan Chattaway
He Died With His Dessicated Gonads In His Hand.
Part Hornblower in Space, part Red Dwarf and relentlessly gung-ho throughout, this book grated on my patience. Birmingham is a good writer but he's really struggling to tell an interesting story here.

The Revelation Space trilogy by Alastair Reynolds covers similar territory in a far more unique and enjoyable way.

Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Five different stories with five different characters. All come together when the need is the greatest. Fast paced action with interesting backstories and world building. This is a must for military space opera readers.
Stéphanie Amesse
Holy wow!! That was awesome!
The Cruel Stars is the first science-fiction book written by author John Birmingham. While the dialogue and some of the action is quite compelling, the story is not exactly original or engaging.

The story takes place thousands of years in the future, where humanity has mastered interstellar travel, and has colonized the galaxy. In a familiar space opera trope, society is run by enormously wealthy noble families who are the ancestors of industrialists and capitalists from centuries gone by ---
Kelly Samaniego
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!

The characters were great. The plot moved along nicely. I would totally want to hang out with some of these folks.
I.F. Adams
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a different take from Birmingham, as I'm used to his more quasi Sci-Fi "speculative" fiction, ala "Without Warning", where the sci-fi is more of a way to justify a thought experiment rather than the universe itself.

This.... is full on cyber-punk Sci-Fi meets Space-Nazi warfare. And it's great.

The start is a little bit much as there's a fair number of characters, and it drops you into a complex and involved universe very little hand holding. So it takes a bit to figure out. It's also got
David Fleming
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic space opera

A great range of likeable characters and richly imagined future societies. Best hard sci-fi I have read since Peter F Hamilton at the top of his game
Alexander Tas
Initially reviewed at The Quill To Live -

There is something alluring about military science fiction. It takes the massive volume of space and narrows it to a single point: conflict. Often, this specific genre ignores a lot of the more nuanced questions that sci-fi often proposes in favor of a single query: what would humanity do in order to survive? Normally, I miss this complexity and nuance, but every now and then I want an action-focused romp against an easily discernible bad guy that
Dale (Aus)
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

The strength in the books I love is always in the characters. This is one of those. Great characters you can really get behind, sometimes irreverent sometimes flawed but that makes them more worthy. From then on the story just takes you and them for a great ride. Not everyone survives, but then it would be a comic book and not a story that brings you back. Loved it and look forward to lots more.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed from the 4/5 mark.

It's a great Space Opera. It leans pretty heavily on Authority Equals Asskicking and has a clear Shoot Him Already. One of the protagonists is basically Honor Harrington, and the book explicitly lampshades her being a Hornblower copy.

I think the biggest flaw is the unwritten histories: several characters reminisce on important events in their past that go at best only partly explained. I kept checking to see if this was really the first written in this universe or if
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Cruel Stars [April 30, 2019] 11 12 May 01, 2019 06:29PM  

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John Birmingham grew up in Ipswich, Queensland and was educated at St Edmunds Christian Brother's College in Ipswich and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. His only stint of full time employment was as a researcher at the Defence Department. After this he returned to Queensland to study law but he did not complete his legal studies, choosing instead to pursue a career as a writer. He ...more

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The Cruel Stars (2 books)
  • The Dead Skies (The Cruel Stars Trilogy Book 2)