[Starhunt: A Star Wolf Novel by David Gerrold
A few posts ago, I reviewed David Gerrold’s Voyage of the Star Wolf novel. After kind of running out of things to read, I decided to see if there were any other space opera books written by Mr. Gerrold that I might also enjoy as much as I did the first I read, and my search turned up three more books in this series.
Starhunt is actually a prequel to the Star Wolf trilogy that focuses on the first officer of the United Systems Starship Roger Burlingame under the command of Captain Georj Brandt. The First Officer of the Burlingame is Jonathan Korie, a young officer who wants his own command, and is also qualified according to some flag officers above him, but it seems that Captain Brandt is standing in his way of being promoted. Brandt sends requests for transfer to a shore job which are denied while Korie sends requests for advancement to command, and until Brandt gets what he wants, he is going to be sure that he keeps Korie on board the Burlingame, knowing that Korie is a good officer and he has also managed to take a rag-tag crew on a rag-tag ship and keep it running with a good efficiency rating.
The story opens as the Burlingame is chasing an enemy ship with the intention of attacking once contact is made. Korie is convinced that he is chasing a real bogie while there are others aboard who think that because of some incomparable upgrades Korie ordered to the ship, they might be chasing a “wobbly,” or a false sensor reading. On board the ship, there is some discord among the crew as a young crewman who has been inadequately trained is put in a position that puts him at odds with other members of the crew and there begins to be a split. WHen Korie’s plan of attack so overruled by Captain Brandt, the bogie is lost and the crew becomes further at odds and they begin to doubt Korie’s ability to command.
Korie uses this situation of the crew seeing him as incompetent to once again unite the crew, even though it is against him, but he never doubts that his bogie is out there somewhere. Brandt orders the ship to return home when the wobbly reappears on the scopes, but Korie knows that it is his bogie. There is a battle and the bogie is destroyed; Korie is vindicated and all is well on board, but there was a price to pay that bothers Korie.
I really enjoyed this story; it is one of those that one hates to put down once one begins to read it. The writing style is very much the flavor of some of the classic Sci-Fi writers that I have enjoyed in the past. Nothing is completely certain as one reads and it is quite unpredictable as the reader follows Korie being very confident all the time that his bogie is out there somewhere, but there are times where I doubted it, and I found myself confounded when I believed that Korie was not only wrong about chasing what seemed like an obsession that was slowly driving him farther and farther toward being irrational as a result of having to make a kill at any cost.
Korie trusted his instincts while no one else did and at one point, he had the entire crew against him and looking forward to testifying at his court martial. Even Captain Brandt felt that he needed to reassert his authority, but it seemed that he had forgotten how and appeared as a coward with no will to fight. As far as Brandt was concerned, even if there was actually a bogie out there, they wouldn’t have a chance to win in a fair fight. However, Korie seems to have a good feeling for how to handle people, even those that are stubborn as he managed to unite the crew to a single cause, which at first was against Korie himself; at one point, Korie had even lost the ability to give orders on board and became very sheepish, at least until the bogie manifested itself to be real, and had designs on killing the Burlingame.
With the crew united, and the threat of being destroyed, Korie was able to step in and win the fight.
Starhunt, as far as I am concerned is space opera of the highest order that uses war as a backdrop for not only introducing the reader to a clever character that will carry forward into the following three novels of the series, but shows how careful planning on a writer’s part can make a fun story to read. As mentioned before, this is not a difficult story to digest as there is not a lot of technobabble, however there is just enough explanation of the workings of the ship to create an understanding of the universe that Mr. Gerrold has created. I think even the most demanding reader would enjoy this story.
The remaining novels in the series are, as mentioned, Voyage of the Star Wolf, followed by The Middle of Nowhere, and the series concludes with Blood and Fire.
Well, there it is…