A Matter of Metalaw (Daw science fiction) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Oct 1986
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When a Metalaw Investigation Team vanishes on a secret assignment, Peter Starbuck and his starship crew are sent to investigate.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
And then there's this.
Set farther in the future than most of his other techno-adventure stories, this is an exploration of a loosely-confederated interstellar civilization whose Prime Directive, if you will, is based on a rewriting of the Golden Rule: Do unto others, not as you would have them to do unto you, but as they would have you do unto them.
And the twist that sets up the whole story is, mistaken assumptions as to what the other wants you to do unto them. Result? An almost unheard-of planetary invasion, motivated by -- well, I won't spoil it. Read it, and you'll figure out what's what before the protagonist does. And Correy comes right out and tells you each of the hero's guesses is wrong.
Lots of possibilities here, hampered by an execution and exposition it is a charity to call wooden. Dialogue among characters, even during a couple of embarrassing sex scenes -- at least I think they're sex scenes --, sounds like a couple of introductory psychological texts having a fight.
There are a couple baffling details that ought to have been either fleshed out or flushed out. Many of the heroes are "longers," very-long-loved humans, at least one of whom was alive during the bad old days of the 21st Century on Earth. This is discussed among characters and in blocks of exposition several times, but doesn't have anything to do with anything, If anything, it makes "Metalaw" feel like part of a series, the rest of which does not exist.
There are some interesting ideas presented in "Metalaw," but they are presented either ham-handedly or with tantalizing incompleteness. It's a story that deserved a better book.
For better examples of Correy/Stine's science fiction, I recommend "Manna," "Space Doctor" and especially "Shuttle Down."