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Black Star Rising

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"When a mysterious alien spacecraft approaches the Earth and demands to speak with the President of the United States, then destroys a large Pacific island to demonstrate its strength and its seriousness, you'd expect the President to talk. Problem is, in the late twenty-first century, there is no President--not even a United States. China rules the Americas, and to most people "US" and "USSR" are just quaint abbreviations in historical dictionaries. But the aliens prove unreasonable about accepting substitutes. So one Anglo rice-cultivator from the Heavenly Grain Collective farm near Biloxi, Mississippi is forced to begin an adventure that will take him from peasant to President, from Pettyman to Spaceman."--dust jacket

282 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1985

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About the author

Frederik Pohl

766 books951 followers
Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Craig.
4,874 reviews111 followers
March 25, 2021
This is a political sf novel from the mid-1980s that starts as satire but wavers into farce and ends with something of a clunk. It has its clever moments and is pretty entertaining, but it hasn't aged as well as most of Pohl's work. The aliens land in Washington and ask to be taken to the leader, but we don't have one anymore...
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
759 reviews1,463 followers
June 13, 2011
We were driving from the Great Sand Dunes to Mesa Verde, my family and I, and I was in a royal funk. Partly this was because I hadn't slept well the night before. Partly it was because the Sand Dunes, damn them, had been windy and so walking near them, let alone climbing them, was made painful by blowing sand. Partly it was because I was on a road trip instead of home with my friends, and I was a high school graduate heading off to another state for college and who knew how hard it would be to see all those people I loved again after this summer and why was I wasting it on the road with the people I'd see every Christmas without fail?

The end result was that I pitched a fit (incredibly immaturely) in Durango, Colorado. I made my dad let me out of the car, stomped across the street to Starbucks, ordered a Venti of the first thing that looked suitably caffeinated, and flopped down in a cushy chair in the corner.

A cushy chair that happened to be directly across from the community messageboard, where signs were pinned to cork.

And of course, the one that caught my eye was the one for the book sale. $1.50 a pound, it promised! Well, how could I resist?

By the time my mom arrived to talk some sense into me I was not only calmed down, rational, and ready to be sensible; I had a new destination in mind. Hell or high water, I'd make it to that book sale.

This is all to say that my finding of this book was pure coincidence, and happy coincidence at that. The randomness of it is rather fitting, too, since this book is one in which something which may or may not eventually be important happens to one Castor Pettyman purely by accident.

It starts with Castor finding a disembodied head in a rice paddy, and while this might seem like the beginning of a murder mystery, it's not. The head has nothing much to do with the plot, except that it has to get Castor to New Orleans so that when alien life contacts the Earth and demands to speak to the President of the United States, he's the logical choice to become a fake President. Why is a fake necessary, you ask? Well, because the Russians and the Americans finally had it out with their nukes not long before, and the power vacuum that resulted from their mutual destruction was quickly filled by China and India, which have split the world. China controls the Americas, which may or may not be a good thing depending on who you talk to. Castor, who's pretty much the main character, is fairly complacent about it. Miranda, on the other hand, who is actually Chinese in ancestry, regards the situation as an occupation, something to be resisted and rebelled against. The Chinese see it as philanthropy on their part. It's an interesting issue and handled pretty well, with plenty of nuance.

That's almost all I'll allow myself to say about the plot, for fear of spoilers. And really, that's the most intriguing part of the book - because the nature of the situation makes it easily applicable to the modern American reader. Iraq, anyone? In that situation, we'd be the Chinese: we came in thinking we were doing good, but are still resented. In that real case, as in this fictional one, the problem is not the 'invasion' but the fact that there was no withdrawal. There's another group of characters who appear later who are even more clearly intended to be satirical of America's military attitudes, but I don't want to give much away. What I can give you is a quote by another character about them: "They have elevated slogans to the point of dogma. In doing so, they have lost sight of the principles that made the slogans valid in the first place."

Now, doesn't that sound a wee bit familiar? Because if you ask me, it happens in every part of the American political arena these days.

This book is not for everyone. It's very plot-centric and at the same time oddly slow-moving. If you're inclined to read it as satire, you'll probably like it. If you're a fan of that strange old-school style of sci-fi, which has a distinctly different use of language and point of view than modern SF, you'll probably like it. It's rarely boring. There are interesting ideas. There are scary ideas. What there isn't is much characterization; there are five central characters that get attention but the rest of the cast isn't particularly fleshed out. It has a certain candor about sex that seems, again, to be a style of the time but which may be offensive to some readers.

It's definitely worth whatever amount I paid for it, and it's worth the time. I imagine Pohl, who's a fairly famous author, has better works out there. This just happened to be the first I found.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,610 reviews419 followers
March 22, 2015
-Algo distinto a lo que comienza ofreciendo.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. En una Norteamérica ocupada por China, que junto a la India suponen las dos potencias hegemónicas tras la destrucción mutua de los USA y la URSS, el operario de una granja agrícola, Pettyman Castor, descubre casualmente la cabeza de un cadáver en un arrozal, lo que le llevará a conocer a Tsoong Delilah, una inspectora de policía que lleva el caso y, lo que es más importante, a conocer un dato secreto al respecto de un objeto espacial que se acerca a la Tierra.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Peter Dunn.
473 reviews21 followers
September 13, 2014
I picked this up because of the interesting premise in which the US and Russia have devastated each other leaving China and India to pick up the pieces, but then an alien ship appears insisting on talking to the President of the now defunct US ……and that was fine for the first 51 pages, after which it descends into farce. This starts with the introduction of a key character who is essentially a mad scientist, then everyone else suddenly starts acting like petulant or jealous children, and then we have the introduction of aliens who are essentially jerks who cunningly disguise this trait by being called “erks”. I do hope that Pohl was at least trying (though failing) to be intentionally funny here.
Profile Image for Mathew Whitney.
113 reviews2 followers
September 9, 2015
Black Star Rising is an odd little story by Frederik Pohl which might best be described as an alternate history novel, though it was originally written as a dystopian future novel. The basic premise is that the US and USSR spiraled into all-out-nuclear war and nearly destroyed the world, leaving India and China to clean up the mess. The story starts off as a simple tale of a man working on a collective farm working rice paddies in what used to be Mississippi, even though all he ever wanted to be is an astronaut, and he knows that can never happen because what little there is of China's space program is inaccessible to Americans.

Somewhere shy of the half-way point, the book takes a turn towards the weird and occasionally absurd. If this is what you're looking for, it's a wonderful tale which manages to find its way around to making some moral observations. If you're looking for some more serious science fiction, this book may be a little off-putting at first, but there's enough of a foundation in solid scientific theory that you may be able to look past it long enough to appreciate the book anyway.
Profile Image for Elar.
1,209 reviews14 followers
April 13, 2017
So you think everything have worked out just fine and then come some patriots who are extraterrestrials and f*** everything up :). We get bite of dystopian society, space travel, romance and even genetic enhancements.
Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 16 books190 followers
August 25, 2016
review of
Frederik Pohl's Black Star Rising
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 8, 2014

This was a JOY to read.. or a HOOT.. or something.. Although.., actually, it sortof petered out by the end & was a bit of a disappointment. Still (moving), all in all (n'at), I had fun reading this. It's in the genre of a-culture-not-currently-dominating a-particular-nation becomes THE-culture-dominating a-particular-nation. Other examples of this genre being Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle (1962) (in wch the Japanese have won WWII & are ruling the US), John Brunner's Times Without Number (1962) (in wch the Spanish Armada defeated the British navy in 1588 instead of the other way around) (see my review here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63... ), & Harry Harrison's Tunnel Through The Deeps (1972) (in wch George Washington failed in the rebellion he led against the British Empire) (I'm reading this one now). In Black Star Rising (1985) the US & the USSR have fought a war that's destroyed most of the people in their respective countries & elsewhere & the Chinese & the Indians have stepped into the vacuum. Specifically, the Chinese now control what was the US. Much of the novel revolves around the resultant tension (but it goes much further):

"Castor's annoyance at her sarcasm exceeded his worry at being involved with the Renmin Police. In faultless Mandarin he answered her. "A high police officer will understand these things better than a peasant, I know."" - pp 4-5

Throughout most of this, Pohl has touches that add entertaining detail. Take, eg, Castor's witnessing the occupying Chinese government's remake of the western "High Noon": "So his mood was sulky. But it improved, as he got caught up in the grand old story of the Renmin marshal of a century earlier, fresh from Home, threatened by a gang of anti-Party elements. The marshal, whose part was sung by the famous Feng Wonfred, was all alone against six armed enemies, but aided by the schoolteacher and other cadres, he struggled against the anti-Party rightists and forced them to criticize themselves." (p 10)

& even tho the Chinese occupation wasn't an invasion (have the Chinese ever invaded anyone?) there's still the prejudice that they bring w/ them to give them an invader-like characteristic: "What Castor had mostly studied was space. Everything about space, theory and practice. It was his dream. Because it was only a dream, it was also a curse. He had discovered bitterly early that only an ethnic Han Chinese had any real prospect of receiving space-going training." (p 12)

As is usually the case w/ any reasonably well-written story, main determining elements are revealed slowly - rather than in an obvious chronological order:

"It was always cool under the water and so much cleaner than the land; the currents that fed the Gulf brought no muck, no industrial wastes, no city sewage—no reminders of the terrible wiped-out world of a century ago. Or not very many, anyway. There was always the death-glass." - p 15

"He wondered what the world had been like, in those days just before the United States and the old Soviet Union had thought about the unthinkable and reached the wrong conclusions. Suppose they hadn't? Suppose they had sometime said to each other, "Look here, there's no sense in stinging each other to death like scorpions in a bottle, let's toss these things away and think of something else to do with our hostilities."" - p 16

Most, if not ALL, of my life, I've felt like the outlaw that society tries to constantly force into a mold that I'm completely opposed to. It hardly matters whether that mold is provided by mainstream culture or some 'alternative' 'politically correct' subculture that I may largely agree w/ but still want to maintain independence from. I want to be a free thinker, I don't want fear of retaliation from people who disagree w/ me to determine either the way I publicly function or the way I privately think. Sometimes I imagine 'friends' of mine chafing at the bit to put me in a 're-education' camp. Hence, this passage 'appeals' to me as a dystopic critique:

"For criticism the platform held a single chair, with all the others arranged in arcs before it and below.

"Castor looked at the hot seat as a condemned felon might view the electric chair of old. To sit there was not an honor. To sit there was to be hopelessly and painfully alone. The man or woman sweating in the hot seat matched three hundred pairs of accusing eyes with his own abashed ones, heard three hundred condemning voices with his solitary pair of shamed ears, spoke in self-criticism or (foolishly, vainly) in defense in his own single stammering voice" - p 21

Castor, the main protagonist, 's hero's-journey-of-errors begins when he discovers a severed human head while farming. The victim turns out to be an enemy of the Chinese occupation:

""He was arrested twice while a university student. Both arrests were for counterrevolutionary activities. The first was for participating in a rightist meeting. The second was for defacing the people's property by spray-painting graffiti. He painted such slogans as 'America for Americans' and 'Chinese Go Home' on the walls of his dormitory. Apprentice Feng was expelled from the university after the second arrest and has since been the subject of observation."" - p 39

The differing perspectives on whether the Chinese are invaders or benefactors remind me of the ongoing nightmare of the US occupations of Afghanistan & Iraq:

""You Yanks! How many of you secretly hate us?"

""It is natural to hate one's conquerors," Castor replied boldly, sucking at the pipe.

""But we are not conquerors! We came here to help, when you and the Russians had stung each other to death—and nearly killed the whole world, too! We brought you doctors and teachers! We helped you rebuild your land!"" - p 43

""Except that you are still here," he said at last." - p 44

Even the Renmin police inspector's relatively privileged life isn't free of the disastrous consequences of the US/USSR war: "It took Castor only a moment to realize this, and to realize that Police Inspector Tsoong's home was built on the heaped-up ruins of what had once been some sort of town. From the reek of petroleum in the air he realized another fact. No matter what Tsoong Delilah had jokingly promised, there would be no tandem skin diving for them this time. There had obviously been an oil surge from the rickety old wells a hundred kilometers out on the Gulf, and swimming would be no pleasure." (p 44)

One of the biggest joys of reading this, for me, was the character of "Manyface" who initially appears to have multiple personalities:

""I am looking for—no, I'm not—PLEASE!—for Bama Repub—shut up—lic citizen, Pettyman Castor—aw, he's not there—PLEASE! LET HIM FIN—of Production Team—I want to watch the opera . . ."" - p 54

The name "Manyface" is a clandestine nickname for a high party functionary. His actual name is: "FUNG-HSANG-DIEN-POTTER-SU-ANGORAK-SHUM TSAI - CORELLI - HONG - GWAI Bohsien - Futsui - Kaichung - Alicia - Wonmu - Aglat - Hengdzhou - Mingwo - Anastasio - Ludzhen - Hunmong." (p 56)

However, the explanation for this complexity is a novel one that I don't want to give away here:

""No, not at all. Split personality—or as Professor Fung's colleagues describe it, 'multiple personality disorder,' is a psychological thing. It is trauma, usually from early childhood damage, that in some way causes a retreat from reality. Manyface is very real. So are all his voices."" - p 71

"an ancient named Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that every society gets invaded by its own barbarians once in each generation—those barbarians it generates itself, the young males from seventeen to twenty-three." (p 148) I like this 'quote'. I tried to look at the Congressional bio for Moynihan online but cdn't connect to it so I went to Wikipedia instead. I found the following tidbit interesting:

"Moynihan was an Assistant Secretary of Labor for policy in the Kennedy Administration and in the early part of the Lyndon Johnson Administration. In that capacity, he did not have operational responsibilities, allowing him to devote all of his time to trying to formulate national policy for what would become the War on Poverty. He had a small staff including Paul Barton, Ellen Broderick, and Ralph Nader (who at 29 years of age, hitchhiked to Washington, D.C., and got a job working for Moynihan in 1963).

"They took inspiration from the book Slavery written by Stanley Elkins. Elkins essentially contended that slavery had made black Americans dependent on the dominant society, and that that dependence still existed a century later. This supported the concept that government must go beyond simply ensuring that members of minority groups have the same rights as the majority but must also "act affirmatively" in order to counter the problem." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_P...

In keeping w/ my previous comment that "main determining elements are revealed slowly":

"What Jupe had been doing was scouting a new nest site. (The detour to hunt inklings was an afterthought.) With a hundred and thirty-one sisters over the age of eight in their nest, it was time to fission. Everybody wanted a new nest when possible. A new nest meant one of the seniors could become a Mother Sister without waiting for Nancy-R to die. It meant even more that another male could be born, without upsetting the established 170-to-1 ration. It meant most of all that America was alive and well on World, and growing!" - p 153

I'm sure Pohl had fun providing this particular fantasy for his heterosexual male readers: 170 women for every man, all eager to fuck whenever possible.

""Oh, my God," said Miranda, when Jupe had finished explaining to her how the Mother Sister took her own ova, fertilized them in vitro with anonymous sperm from the banks, and implanted them in her "wife."" - p 180

Is that possible now? I recently had a boss who was a lesbian who gave birth to twins thru artificial insemination but I doubt that it also involved using the ova from her lover. Still, it's probably possible (or will be soon).

""Just that they are the other races the erks have helped," Jupe explained. "That's what they do, you remember? The erks have never failed to give aid to the oppressed, in all their history. Of course, it hasn't always worked out the way you'd want it, but still—"" - p 189

A touch of parody of the US as World Cop maybe?

"Ah, Hsang-the-psychologist! For him the Yanks were not merely a puzzle. They were a threat to his most basic beliefs.

"It happened that those beliefs were illicit, but that did not make them less strongly felt. As in most Socialist countries, the Han Chinese had early on repudiated the foul-smelling ravings of that degenerate toady of the bosses, Sigmund Freud. The sexual interpretation of dreams was not merely heretical in China. It was punishable by law." - pp 224-225

WELL, it never occurred to me that psychoanalysis might be banned in China. I find this fascinating. So I did a (very) little searching online for "Chinese law + psychoanalysis" (after failing w/ "Sigmund Freud + Chinese law") & opened up the 1st thing I found: Anne-Marie Schlösser's Oedipus in China: Can we Export Psychoanalysis? from wch I extract an opening paragraph:

"A night scene in an overfilled third class train carriage with wooden seats and dim lighting, somewhere in China. This is how the novel of Dai Sijie starts, “Mr. Muo’s travelling couch“. Mr. Muo keeps records of his dreams - his own, during his travels through China, and those of his fellow countrymen. He has just completed his training in analysis in France and now, after returning to China, sets out to apply his acquired insights to cope in a country that seems to him, at least in part, grotesquely altered. He is convinced that nobody, not even the “official representatives of law and order“ can escape the truth of psychoanalysis. It is his intention to bring this truth back to his homeland where for a long period of time psychoanalysis was prohibited. His undertaking evolves into something of a ludicrous adventure. And the question arises: is China ready for psychoanalysis? Do we have anything to offer and do Chinese people need it?" - p 4 of a downloaded PDF (This article is no earlier than 2007 b/c there're references from that time.)

&, yes, there's an implied lesson to be learned from Black Star Rising: "For the erks had never found an undivided civilization. There were always differences of opinion or policy or religion or habits of thought . . . and to the erks a difference meant a struggle." (p 248) SO, if there's no such thing as "an undivided civilization" & that's a problem, what's the solution? Of course, one can say that there's no solution b/c there's no problem. One can also say that these divisions are a form of codependency &/or symbiosis (as Pohl implies in one case). But does that help ease the suffering? Alas, no.
Profile Image for Shawn.
300 reviews3 followers
November 23, 2022
Saw it & picked it off the library shelf. Quick read, can be done in a single day w/light determination, for Pohl keeps the pace moving, constantly flitting toward scenes & places, and chatting up dust devils of international politics. As is typical of Pohl, the sexual innuendos are ubiquitous, around the corner of every page. Dunno what it is w/the guy, maybe it's his 1970s b/w photo on the back cover, but an air of lechery pervades his writings. The Heechee Saga, as cool as it was, was very reliant upon that yearning and nostalgia for that good ol' fashioned "love-making." Pohl must've been very active, and love(-making) was clearly an existential issue for him, as it should be, right. But yeah, one can also kinda reverse-engineer Pohl's thinking, and his place in time, by reading his books. For instance, readers can glean from Black Star Rising that the author lives in a time when China & Russia (and communism) are real-world, political & ideological threats to him. Readers can also perceive through his anthropomorphic representations of alien beings that the author inherently thinks along the lines of race and of nationhood. Even the alien Erks see in terms of race, both in discerning between their own 'dumb' and 'smart' ones, and in having a preference for a certain side (nation). A more imagined world would, as a counter-example, have societies built upon transcendent notions of unity and oneness among creatures. But this is Pohl, and it's clear that he's writing straight outta the [late 20th century].

Pohl's got some trademarks. Namely, the over-mind thing, as I think of it. It's when a person tries to access more brain potential. Thus, in the Heechee Saga, there was a mind in a machine theme. And in Black Star Rising there are several minds/brains inside one man. There are some concepts to be explored in the book but the plot is the priority, above even the political commentary (on the relations between USA and Russia-China), and it's kinda ludicrous. But ya don't read this sort of SF with realistic criticism. Ya just sit back and say, okay, alright, and ya nod ya head a little, and smile or chuckle every now and then when one of the characters makes some sly (or overt) sexual quip. I mean, c'mon, Pohl actually went there in this book and actually fancied up a planet where the ratio of women to men was 170:1...! LOL. Ol' grandpa Pohl staring at me through his sunglasses on the back cover of this randomly picked library book. If you want a fun & silly romp around communism, nuclear war, and the neighborhood of our galaxy, go ahead and have a go at this light read!
Profile Image for Dom.
7 reviews2 followers
May 1, 2018
Some great ideas here and some good commentary on the dangers of nationalism. Fun and fast read.
Profile Image for Chris Zable.
343 reviews14 followers
August 2, 2017
I picked this up in a used book store, intrigued by the initial premise and because I very much enjoyed some Pohl that I read years ago (Heechee saga). It starts out with an interesting what if -- what if the US and the USSR blew each other to smithereens, leaving China and India as the great world powers? We start in a rice paddy in Alabama, part of a US administered by the Red Chinese. It's all very interesting, in the way that alternative history is (though when written in 1985 it was actually a speculative future).

Then some aliens show up demanding to speak to the President of the US and the whole thing veers into farcical political satire -- very disappointing.
Profile Image for Matthew Reads Junk.
205 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2018
Ugh. Heavy handed moralizing, paper thin characters and plot that makes no rational sense.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,033 reviews391 followers
April 17, 2021
I like the mix of heavy satire and silly comic relief... it makes the themes more palatable. I'm not fond of the fact that we never learn what made the Yankees overwhelmingly Amazonian. I don't appreciate that it took half the book before it seemed worthy of my time... it could have been written more concisely. But overall it's a fun adventure with plenty of interesting things to think about.

The remaining superpowers being China and India, and how the Han Chinese treated the remainin Americans.
The Living Gods & genetic engineering.
How sex & gender affect how we reason... and how we don't.
The FTL device called a spaceway.

3.5 stars rounded up because when I closed the book I smiled at myself for perservering.
Do I recommend it? Eh, only if you happen to find a copy in a cabin or Little Free Library or thrift store, I think.
Profile Image for Ernest Hogan.
Author 31 books56 followers
April 29, 2021
A forgotten gem from the co-author of the satirical classic THE SPACE MERCHANTS. First published in 1985 while the Cold War (Google it, kids) was still raging. Gives a look at Americans being treated as a defeated minority by colonialist Chinese communists after the USSR and the USA destroy each other. Then aliens who still believe in the old dream of American militarism show up. And more fun weird stuff.
Profile Image for Scot McAtee.
Author 20 books9 followers
November 16, 2020
I was loving the book right up until the end. It was bit anticlimactic there. It felt a lot like a Stephen King story: build up build up build up and... that?

Still worth a read!
Profile Image for Chris Gager.
1,946 reviews75 followers
January 17, 2012
Rescued from the Transfer station trailer. Pohl is one of the "Old Guard" of Sci-Fi writers I remember from the 50's and 60's. I need a break after "Gilead". Time to lighten up, literature-wise. Tonight... I finished this one yesterday while the snow flew outside. What a mess out there now. Rain and sleet on top of 7" of wet snow - ICK! I've already shoveled a bunch of it and I'm not done yet. Anyway... this book is a reliably entertaining and kind of wacky tale. Some interesting science, sex and society ideas and some dated ones I suppose. That can be a minor problem when reading older sci-fi about the Earth's near future. Might be the first author to use the word "spork". Maybe he invented the word... He should have added a few years to the start of the story. The plot is vaguely reminiscent of the old Star Trek TV episode about the wandering space-probe V'ger (Voyager), who got reprogrammed and became a menace. I can't recall the title. The same plot was recycled into the first ST movie with name of the "little guy" changed to Nomad.
Profile Image for Dustin.
15 reviews
September 20, 2014
This one was just okay to me. I really debated about whether I wanted to give it two stars or three, and I decided to give it three simply because it was good enough for me to finish. I've read a couple other books by Pohl which I really enjoyed, but this one was very dry to me. Many of the themes in the story were interesting but I simply could not connect with the characters, in fact I really did not care about them at all. There was a tremendous amount of sex in the novel which was written in a very un-sexy way in my opinion. The ending was predictable, and honestly, the lack of any type of epilogue makes me think the author didn't care much for the characters either. This book should probably only by read by those trying to complete all of Pohl's novels.
Profile Image for Matt Gibson.
7 reviews3 followers
August 15, 2011
Black Star Rising's basic premise of a future in which mutually-assured destruction has come true, leading the Chinese to "rescue"/invade the USA is interesting and a good background to a story.

However, I found things to go downhill from this promising beginning, as the book leaned more and more towards both fantasy and lots of content that I'm guessing would mean a lot more to an American than to me. Add to that a lack of character development and a mess of threads that never really seemed to go anywhere, and I was losing interest by halfway.

I finished this book with a minor sigh of relief and a tinge of regret that I hadn't just given up on it at the point I started struggling.
29 reviews
February 4, 2017
You had me at hello.
I immediately got lost in this book from the very first sentence. I was intrigued. It was such a captivating way to start the story, in my opinion. The story, I felt, continued to be extremely well written and sectioned out into distinct units with artistic perfection.
Now, I usually base my final rating decision for a book on one question: has the book left me wanting to know more about the characters and the "what happens next" for them. With Black Star Rising, yes, yes I do want to pick up a sequel and find out what next for our odd little team. I want to, but I'm also happen to play out my own little predictions in my head
Profile Image for Clayton Yuen.
856 reviews
October 19, 2011
A historical scifi novel written in the rhetoric of the times, Black Star Rising starts off with a bang. It has a great premise that developed slowly (as with many of the old scifi books), but lingers. I loved the story and the oddly interesting characters, but the lingering was a problem.

I suppose with all the fast, slam-bam stories available to us these moderns days, you have to just relax and enjoy this good read for what it is worth . . . 4 stars!
Profile Image for Fredrick Danysh.
6,844 reviews156 followers
October 19, 2014
An alien ship lands in Washington, DC, demanding to see the president of the United States. They destroy a large Pacific island to back up their demand. But there is no longer as United Staes as China controls of of its former territory as well as that of the old USSR. One Anglo rice farmer in Mississippi begins the journey that will make him the new president.
Profile Image for Darren.
Author 4 books5 followers
October 24, 2012
Someone left this in the marina lounge. I read just about anything science fiction, and I read the Heechee saga when I was a kid so I picked it up. Kind of a juvenile premise, golden age science fiction stuff. Kind of felt like he wasn't trying very hard to write anything good. Probably should have left it in the lounge.
Profile Image for Mary Slowik.
Author 1 book19 followers
July 17, 2015
Thought-provoking, predictive sci-fi from late in the cold war, 1985. Nice handling of multiple perspectives, definitely memorable characters.

I learned while reading this that Frederik Pohl also lives in a Chicago suburb. And that he's 92, and still writing!
Profile Image for Robert.
2 reviews5 followers
August 27, 2016
Starting out like as a really good novel and ended like a bad movie. I was surprised when I turned the page and instead of a resolution to the buildup, there was the "About the Author" paragraph. Feels unfinished.
Profile Image for Jim.
46 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2009
Pohl is usually pretty good. The book was terrible. I kept waiting for it to be done. When it was...I asked why in the world did I read it. A waste of time.
Profile Image for Kadja Draenor.
72 reviews1 follower
January 28, 2012
For such a funny sounding book, it ended up being a rather heavy handed political comentary. To top it off, the ending really didn't solve the conflict. All in all, not a book I would recommend.
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