Reviews of Starchild (1965)
Review by clong (2006-07-27)
This book was quite a disappointing follow up to the better than expected The Reefs of Space. The protagonist Boysie Gann is unsympathetic, and his transformation from platitude spewing Plan of Man loyalist to out to save his own skin rebel is unconvincing. The rest of the characters barely merit the description one dimensional. Less care went into constructing the storyline than in the first book, as the plotting meanders loosely from scene to scene, with little rhyme or reason. And the technology, which seemed remotely plausible in book 1, has now more or less become "magic."
I am usually not one to complain when a science fiction book from 40 years ago failed to anticipate the pace and direction of technology evolution, but a central plot element of Starchild focuses on Pohl's and/or Williamson's ideas on how computers and humans might communicate and interact with each other. And these ideas were way off the mark. So, unlike the very effective central interlude of Book 1 (in which the protagonist was sent of to a "The Prisoner" like setting, waiting for his body parts to be harvested), the central interlude of Book 2 (in which the protagonist is sent off to learn how to sing to computers, not to mention being hardwired to have his mind and "pleasure centers" link to the Planning Machine) didn't work at all for me.
As in the first book, the editing was sloppy, leaving both a couple of jarring grammatical errors and a couple of obvious typos. (I am reading these books in the 1988 second printing of the Baen paperback omnibus).
Based on this book, I say stop after the first book the trilogy. I'll let you know if reading book 3 changes my mind.