"Starbound", the sequel to the most excellent "Marsbound" is actually the second in a planned trilogy according to author Joe Haldeman. The final book in the series will be called "Earthbound" and is due out next year some time (see interview with JH at [...]
Regardless, whereas Marsbound, written from the perspective of a spunky, sparky, horny and clever young woman, Carmen Dula, who is forced to accompany her family to Mars was sharp, interesting, funny (Carmen's dialogue mostly), fast-paced and great SF, this sequel is dull, listless and just sort of slogs along. Carmen is back but does not even remotely resemble the Carmen of Marsbound, even though only a few years have passed. This time she, husband Paul and a handful of others, including a couple of Martians are on their way at subliminal speeds to the home world of the über-advanced "Others" who almost destroyed the all of mankind in Marsbound to try and make peace or die trying.
The story is all told in first person, and in many cases it is difficult to tell for several paragraphs or pages who is narrating. I found this disconcerting. The story is also boring - basically 7 humans plus two four legged, four armed Mr. Potato Head-horse hybrids stuck in a tin can for 6 years. Nothing of note happens, no great discoveries, some psychological problems but....
The meeting with the Others is anticlimactic and problematic from a plotting point of view. Without giving anything crucial away, I had a problem with just exactly how a race of super-advanced but ultra-slow moving and thinking life forms could possibly respond to events on a human time scale. We are just way, way too fast even for their thought processes so how could they possibly respond to things that happen over the course of a few years, let along near instantaneously? Just didn't make sense.
The ending was very abrupt and also didn't make much sense from a physics point of view, but of course it was intended to pave the way for the last in the trilogy I suppose.
I am a huge fan of Joe Haldeman and this is the first of his novels that I didn't think was great. Certainly do not read this one without first reading Marsbound - this one is not stand-alone - and don't read this as your introduction to the great SF of Joe Haldeman. Try "The Accidental Time Machine" instead. Perhaps the final entry in the series will pull everything together. I sure hope so.