These days, scifi is a pretty black and white affair, vast black space and dusty white lifeless planets. Nothing got that across for me than Ark, showing what happens when you are lucky in launching a desperate colonization effort. And there was Flying to Valhalla. Same deal.
But Starwolf is old school scifi. Written as a three-book saga in the early 60’s and reprinted as a collection in the 80’s, it’s a bold splash of color. Space is stuffed with golden nebulas and Christmas-light stars. Who cares that dead worlds somehow have an atmosphere? Who cares that the party lands on a cinder of a dead star to mine critical elements? It’s just fun space opera, a nice break from the eight-year drags that modern scifi holds interstellar travel to be.
I loved the beginning of the story. We meet Morgan Chane, former starwolf and now fugitive. See, the starwolves are heavy-world feline/human stock. Chane was the son of missionaries who came to the starwolf homeworld and slowly died in its heavy gravity. But Chane lived, grew immensely strong, became a brother to the wolves. He joined them in their raids. Hated by the rest of the galaxy for their piratical actions, starwolves are immediately executed when captured. And Chane is running from a squabble over booty that ended with him killing a clan-brother.
And that means he’s hunted by everyone in the galaxy.
I found it really strongly written. When I was supposed to be creeped out by the bio-engineered horrors on this one world, yeah, I was. And when the hero got really pissed about nearly being killed by a slow-working agony ray used by a bunch of Nob Hill art-swiping outsourcing aliens, I got pissed along with him. It was a fun quick read, the reason I like old paperbacks, good used bookstores and long rainy evenings. This is one of those gems that an avid reader can blow the dust off of and savor. Good fun. Gets my recommendation.