Red Planet RunA reluctant Star  and her sulky twin teenagers are sent to Mars by her Machiavellian boss to investigate the traces of a possible past civilisation. A botched landing leaves them on the wrong side of the planet, and they soon realise a vicious enemy from the Belt is hard on their heels. Can Star fix her relationship with her kids, survive a loony and solve the mystery of the Cydonian ruins? Of course she can. She’s Alaskan.

I finally completed the Star Svensdotter trilogy. The last instalment is more coherent than the second, but still less so than the first, this time eschewing a clear narrative arc in favour of a sort of Martian travelogue with intermittent gunfire.

These novels never pretended to be well-written, and their appeal rests heavily on Star’s shoulders. I remain entertained by the half-willing competence of a smart, stubborn woman who doesn’t have a clue how to be in a relationship (romantic or maternal). The books have moments of brilliance – in this instalment, the storyknife ceremonies feel awkward in terms of context, but provide memorable scenes that manage to be moving; and Paddy’s outrage at the concept of Intelligent Design rang a chord (although I concede her brother’s response) – but it largely feels like Stabenow is writing for her own amusement, and it doesn’t always work. Also, her attitude to archaeology and anthropology is dreadful 😉

It’s unclear whether Stabenow meant to write more; the trilogy is very open-ended, and leaves big questions unanswered. However, given Star’s (also awkward) philosophical meandering at the end, this doesn’t seem unreasonable. The point here seems to be that space is exciting and will always pose more questions than we can answer; we just need to embrace the challenge and get out there for a look. I can get behind that.

***