The Star Fox

Poul Anderson
The Star Fox Cover

A Pleasant Surprise


In the opening chapter our big, brassy and ballsy hero (Heim) discovers that a remote planet (New Europe) is being invaded by aliens, which the Glactic Federation is refusing to believe. So he grabs a starship, crews it with a bunch of his own mercenaries and starts swashbuckling his way to rescuing the poor colonists himself.

At this point you would think the rest is predictable, but happily this is not the case... our hero does not get the girl in the end.

What follows is a really interesting story of politics, naval tactics, and survival on a planet populated by Death Machines. This results in a story that improves by the page as it becomes harder to guess what plotwise is round the corner.

I particularly liked the irony that the only country who believes Heim is the French. They become instrumental in saving the day, blowing raspberries at the Federation by helping our hero exploit a flaw in Galactic law. If found this a rather insightful view of European characters coming from an American writer. Calling the planet in peril 'New Europe' is clearly intentional.

There is also an interesting anti-Star Trek political sentiment here in that one Galactic Federation is not necessarily a good thing for the development mankind.

You can also see where all the Starship Enterprise manoevers came from when the crew need to overcome insurmountable odds. Loved the way Heim got a hi-jacked ship to land undetected on an ememy planet by chasing a meterorite through the atmosphere.

As with all of Anderson's works, his use of words are very economical - so try not to rush through this or you may miss an important plot point.

The three 'chapters' in the book also seem to run at a different pace compared to each other, but from memory I beleive this is because the novel is actually a compilation of separately published short stories.

For its time, this is quite an original work which must have stood out from the crowd. It most likely set the tone for many future sci-fi television fanchises just emerging at the same period of time.

Did you read this book, Mr. Roddenbury?