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Black Star Rising by Frederik Pohl

Back in the 1980's Russia and America went into war and blew themselves up. China took over the "inferior" races, so communism was afoot, except that it wasn't really communism but much more like imperialism. Which is the author's way of saying "I'm trying to copy George Orwell's Animal Farm." Or that history repeats itself. Something like that. Only with an alien invasion.

Disappointingly, this still isn't one of Pohl's best works. It just really blows on so many levels I don't know where to begin.

So let's get the communism thing out of the way first. It's not that I don't like it because it's anti-communist, and because the depiction of communists-turned-imperialists is not probable. I don't like the anti-communist depiction because it's so stupidly absurd.

George Orwell can get away with communist absurdity because that's what he was all about to begin with. Metaphors through fables and going easy on the details so he wouldn't have to worry about getting specific flaws of the communist party accurate.

But here we have science fiction slash future fiction. It can't escape the need to paint a more normal but probable detail of the post-American/Russian war that it all went downhill from there. The bias of stupidity shows up too much.

For example, the author tried to make the communist party's criticizing and self-criticizing mantra a laughing matter. In the world of the author, this will happen in a large number, 300 people in fact, as they criticize the designated person in the hot seat.

This is by far the most ridiculous insult to an ideology I've heard of. Does Frederik Pohl really think it would have happened like that? Or did he just choose to paint an absurd picture amidst the whole more normal picture? I'm just saying his absurdity is inconsistent which makes it unfunny. And the way he couldn't attack the other ideologies except for communism is so, I don't know, I guess unresearched, uneducated, and just disappointing. He was comparing communism to imperialism; I just wish he'd done it more properly so he could've gone on a high moral ground if he wanted to.

Because at the latter part of the novel, it turned a whole lot preachy, hammering my head with "Make Love, Not War" hippie images. Sure, at some point the novel tells me that war is necessary but it doesn't exactly show me the argument for it. The moral lesson is as narrow-minded and as dogmatic as the Han Chinese in the novel.

But sure, lame anti-communism sentiments aside, did the novel work in a formalist manner? Simply no, and that's even in the usual popular culture standards. At a supposed crucial point in the climax, one of the protagonists had a stroke. I mean, really?


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