The Day of the Star Cities by John Brunner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Even leading authors can be hit or miss, and the author of the landmark Stand on Zanzibar misses with Day of the Star Cities.
Alien cities have appeared all over the globe at the same instant that all fissile material explodes. Humanity is left in a warring, chaotic post-apocalyptic world while a new religion develops centered around the hidden aliens. There's also a lucrative black market in alien artifacts and a devoted international team of scientists trying to figure out what's going on.
The ideas for this story are intriguing, as are some of the descriptions of the alien cities and technology. Unfortunately, the book falls flat. Too many characters are introduced and not given enough depth to be distinguishable from each other. Also, theories and subplots come at a furious pace, and with all these interchangeable characters the book quickly becomes confusing.
My impression as a writer reading this was that Brunner was working on a tight deadline, something that plagued many house authors in this period of publishing. Thus his original idea is never given the space or care that could have made this a great novel.
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