by Jerry Wright
Author: Mike Brotherton
Publisher: Tor Books
HB: October 2003
Star Dragon comes with a blurb by David Brin on the cover saying "...This is Science Fiction". And I have to agree. Brotherton has created complex astrophysics, neat biological creations which remind me of Tom Easton's "Sparrowhawk" universe, and the eponymous "Star Dragon", a creature that lives in the plasma stream of an accretion disk, created by the complex interplay of forces between two stars.
I found the science fascinating and the universe to be a magnificent creation. I found the characters, while also complex, to be somewhat unrealistic and bizarre. There are no spacewarps or hyperdrive in the universe of Star Dragon, and since the home star of this creature is almost 250 light years away, the many relative months of starflight will take an actual 500 years to go "there and back again". What are the motivations of those willing to give up 500 years to see what's on the other side? Sorry. Couldn't quite rationalize their rationalizations. Oh well. So it ain't a perfect book.
Yes, each of the characters have their reason for wanting to leave Earth behind for 500 years, but you would think that psychologists of the future would have a better grasp on the handling of unstable personalities. Some reviewers call the characters "posthuman", but the ability to have bodymods, and adding new wiring to the brain does not a posthuman make. On the other hand, it could be that Mike Brotherton's ability to explain complexities in a lucid, understandable fashion removed some of the "posthuman" mysteries.
There are clues galore to be collected about the creatures, but I also had a hard time believing that the ship's AI (based on "Papa Hemingway") would be able to assemble the pieces to come up with a history of the Star Dragons. A minor quibble, as the story is enjoyable, and I read the book through quite quickly. I guess if I had to give it a grade, I'd give it an A-.
So, yes I recommend it. You will definitely have your "sensawunda" jazzed by Star Dragon.