Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5.0 out of 5 stars Parachuted into an alien world
This is a highly imaginative novel for fans of hard SF. The first chapter is instantly enthralling. It draws you into the story with a mixture of high tech detail and immediate identification with the main character. From there things move with considerable pace into a world full of surprises. McAuley's background in biological research shows through very effectively in...
Published on 9 Jan. 2010 by Peter Piper

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars 400 billion stars
Dorthy Yoshida, astronomer, is commandeered because she has a psychic talent and sent to another planet, which orbits a red giant star - quite closely, as these suns are not very hot, meaning that the sun fills the sky. In the past this planet was tidally locked so someone has restarted its spin.

An enemy is attacking Terran colonists in another system and the...
Published 13 months ago by Clare O'Beara


Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars Parachuted into an alien world, 9 Jan. 2010
By 
Peter Piper (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Paperback)
This is a highly imaginative novel for fans of hard SF. The first chapter is instantly enthralling. It draws you into the story with a mixture of high tech detail and immediate identification with the main character. From there things move with considerable pace into a world full of surprises. McAuley's background in biological research shows through very effectively in his assured depiction of wildlife on a world where nothing turns out to be as it at first appears. The setting for the story spans what feels like an entire ecosystem in a way that makes it almost tangibly alien.

I have read only one other novel by this author (The Quiet War) which, I have to say, I did not enjoy as much. 400 Billion Stars is far more engaging and involves the reader more closely with the main characters. The arrival of humans, and one in particular, triggers a sequence of changes in the native fauna on a planet human leaders believe is key to a war they are in danger of losing. The plot is satisfyingly anti-establishment and anti-military.

The internal conflict in the mind of the telepath Dorothy is realistically and sympathetically portrayed, as she moves forward in both solving the riddle of the alien planet and towards her own self-realisation. Over the last 45 years I have read a great deal of science fiction and I found this to be a very enjoyable and compelling read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Sci-Fi, 5 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Kindle Edition)
This is refreshing Sci-Fi, the kind of Sci-Fi that you forget is Sci-Fi while you're reading it. It is epic in scale, whilst at the same time being very personal and introspective. I had been looking for a new Sci-Fi author for a while before I came across this book. I'm not looking anymore...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars 400 billion stars, 19 Jan. 2014
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Kindle Edition)
Dorthy Yoshida, astronomer, is commandeered because she has a psychic talent and sent to another planet, which orbits a red giant star - quite closely, as these suns are not very hot, meaning that the sun fills the sky. In the past this planet was tidally locked so someone has restarted its spin.

An enemy is attacking Terran colonists in another system and the officers fear whoever planoformed this planet and seeded it with life, is the same enemy. Dorthy is asked to read the minds and intentions of the apparently simple humanoids, herders of multilegged crawlers. She has a paper copy of Shakespeare's sonnets which she carries like a security blanket, and had a sad upbringing on Earth. Matters go badly wrong....

I was interested in the astrophysics and in the biological background to the planet's mix of life-forms. I was not interested in the repeated lectures as to how society had evolved back on old Earth, thousands of years ago, in the Age of Waste and the fractured age of expansion. Maybe xenobiologists under constant threat do deliver countless lectures on such topics. Otherwise, a few paragraphs would have sufficed; it comes across as padding.

Dorthy is not a sympathetic character. She avoids relationships with anyone and pushes away men who want to be intimate with her - and when you can read minds, that's not going to be many. I disliked the continued use of capitalised 'Talent' for her ability. She comes across as selfish and sullen most of the time, unhelpful and doing as little as possible.

I could not believe how many major mistakes these characters kept making. Reading up on the Romans, or Zulu wars, or Lord of the Rings would have served the party better than Elizabethan sonnets. Their apparently deliberate ignorance means they don't set a guard or perimeter alarm while all four people in a camp go to sleep at the same time, so now we're down to two. Read the manual folks!
The next campsite is located in a deep dry riverbed. Had they not heard of Isandlwana? Try taking the high ground, where you can see, and trees give fuel for fires and weapons and shelter and might slow attack. As it happens, it's the flash flood that gets them.
Next, do we not realise that it's a bad idea to take a captive along when you climb a cliff? Think of Gollum.

By halfway through I was just reading to see how many more mistakes these people would make. The story was quite slow and I didn't get attached to any of the characters. The explanation of why there was a multitude of incompatible life forms was not sensible, I thought. Why would the planoformers not stick to whatever was like themselves, instead of bringing along completely other-based beasts and plants that would have no place in the ecology and might destroy or outcompete the wanted beasts and plants? We call these invasive aliens, and they are generally harmful.
I did however enjoy the depiction of living on a planet close to a red giant star.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, reasonable story, 4 Jun. 2013
By 
Mr. Mark A. Laborda "labor475" (Andover, Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Kindle Edition)
This had some unique and intriguing ideas which I thought the author struggled to bring out. The book took a long time to get going properly and Yoshida's issues seemed to be overly and repetitively reproduced. A reasonable read and recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Beauty is in the..., 3 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Kindle Edition)
Some people seem to believe interesting should mean 'wham, bam', but this story gradually unpicks a million year old mystery, methodically and with great care. Dorthy is a damaged 'talent' who is able to find out why the encountered aliens are so xenophobic. But will that help?

To find out you need to read the sequel, 'Eternal Light'. (Not on Kindle!)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent debut, 5 Aug. 2010
By 
L. Richards (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Paperback)
This book won the Phillip K. Dick award, and deserved it. It's unbelievable that two people have given this a mere 2 stars. This is excellent science fiction, realistic and thought provoking. Paul McAuley extrapolates his science fictional elements as far as they'll go, and he presents them through believable characters with a humanity that grips the reader's sympathies and doesn't let go. If you're ready to believe in and love the main character, and you're ready for an emotional journey that will be tough and will make you think, then give this novel a chance.

In all honesty, in a world where 5 stars are reserved for the best of science fiction, such as The Stars My Destination (S.F. Masterworks), The Forever War (S.F. Masterworks) and indeed Fairyland by Paul McAuley (his best, in my opinion), then I might have rated this novel with 4 stars. But I simply can't believe people have rated it so low, and I had to balance things out with some sense. Once again, it won the Phillip K. Dick award. It seems obvious that only excellent books win the Phillip K. Dick award, and if you buy this one, you'll see why.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, 4 Dec. 2002
By 
R. J. Hole (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I was disappointed with this book. It was very slow moving and in hindsight it seemed to have been padded out. The heroine of the story is a 'talent', i.e, she is telepathic. Her talent is suppressed for most of the time, however, and she takes a counteragent when she wants to make use of it. She arrives on a planet with a military presence. One the way down she senses an intelligence that is so powerful it knocks her out. When recovered, she mopes around the base camp for a while. Then goes off in a team to study the 'herders' which are a life-form which seem to be non-intelligent but which could be the 'enemy' (they are apparently fighting a war at somewhere called BD 20).
It took me a long time to read this book, I just didn't get into it. The dialogue seemed stilted and the story seemed long-winded and didn't really get anywhere in the end. However, it did win the PKD award so it must have something going for it. McAuley is a biologist and uses his knowledge to give the SF an authentic air - perhaps that is the reason.
If you like the idea of people exploring an alien planet and studying aliens, written in a descriptive, but slow, style then perhaps this is for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why so many Stars?, 18 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Kindle Edition)
The Quiet War novels offered galactic wide scope and some big ideas, at least in the first two novels. 400 Billion Stars, an earlier novel, is not in quite the same league. While entertaining, and with good character development, the plot sometimes plods rather than streaks along, and the denouement is week. the final "confrontation" with "the enemey" (or is it really an "enemy") is a bit stretched and not particularly satisfying. But its an okay read, except I couldn't figure out where the 400 Billion stars come into it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing debut, 13 Nov. 2003
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
While Paul J McAuley would go on to become of the leading lights of modern British sf, Four Hundred Stars bears all the marks of a difficult first novel. The set-up is reasonably interesting, as a military / scientific expedition sets out to discover whether the seemingly unintelligent natives of a terraformed world are connected to the mysterious ‘enemy’ attacking humanity on the other side of the galaxy. Unfortunately the novel then slows to a snail’s pace as the expedition observes the planets flora and fauna. This pacing is the real killer here, with the over-extended travelogues making a relatively short novel (250 pages) seem like a hard slog, whole the denouement is rushed out infodump fashion in the last few pages.
None of the characters particularly appealed to me, and the manner in which the Shakespeare quoting lead’s back-story was unveiled seemed a little clumsy, while the prose is at best functional.
This is the first of three novels (plus short stories) based in the same universe, though compared to other sf series McAuley’s given background thus far seems fairly generic and unmemorable – hopefully the series will improve.
A few good ideas, but far too clumsy in execution to recommend to anyone other than McAuley completists. A shaky start.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 400 Billion Stars (Paperback)
Good
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

400 Billion Stars
400 Billion Stars by Paul McAuley (Paperback - 3 Sept. 2009)
£7.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews