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Friday, April 24, 2015

Classics Revisited: Stardance by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson, pt 2. "Stardance II"

First appeared in Analog as a serialized novel. The serialized novel, Stardance II, was up for Locus and Ditmar awards and won the Analog Readers Poll (albeit, there were only two serialized novels that year in Analog). The combined novel took fourth in the Locus Award poll. 

"Stardance II"

Shara's sister Norrey Drummond hooks up with Charlie, makes an honest man of him while Charlie gets Norrey to buy into his idea of a dance company in zero gee. They struggle to get a troupe together, but struggle to find those who can maintain an arbitrary frame of reference where there is no gravity or vertical. A number even die.

Eventually a troupe forms, and after a dramatic near-death accident, they go off to greet the aliens at Saturn since they are the only ones capable of communicating to these aliens.

The award-winning novella's emotional momentum carries the reader through this opening, but the search for a troupe isn't especially dramatic. The personal drama has wandered off. It might have helped to have a tangible enemy or have different characters tell their story, Tom in particular. Considering their final outcome, it would certainly be possible to switch POVs. This may be why the novel didn't do better, considering the opening novella had already done so well.

When Norrey rescues Charlie, dooming them both, the reader regains interest through to the end. While the novel grows chatty, the plot tension is taut enough to allow this philosophizing.

The only flaw in the ending is how they treat the two villains differently without explaining why.

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