68k Mentat

The Starchild Trilogy, by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson

Rating: weak writing but very interesting; only re-read the first two


As a solution to scarcity, the world (and solar system) is now run by a computer network which everyone checks in to on an hourly basis; “criminals” are sentenced to organ donor colonies. Out beyond the solar system are “reefs of space”, where tiny organisms convert hydrogen into heavier elements. Humans can live there, as can other neat space creatures. The Machine (and the politicians) consider the Reefs and the outlaw-pioneers who live there, to be a threat to the system. After Humanity has joined the sentient stars’ galactic civilization, two men work to create their own rogue sentient star. Part Frankenstein and part Columbine, one man alone understands enough to stop it from destroying civilization. Each story has an anticlimatic ending.


anti-authoritarian. The political machine is a literal computer network, pretty cool. Plus human in-fighting and lying to the machine, since this is based on 60s-era tech and the machine only knows what it’s manually informed of. The third story replaces the Plan of Man with a pseudo-religion based on cellular integration with the stars; This serves to provide action-roadblocks to the main character, but is this time bureaucratic instead of fascist.


Women are intelligent and self-sufficient in this universe, but are still pushed to the side for the main character. Each story features one love interest, and possibly a second woman who is a relatively strong character for the stories.