A soldier of the Empire of Earth floats through space, his spaceship destroyed by sabotage. He is saved by ‘a city-in-space’ whose people despise those born and raised on a planet. Out of spite, he refuses to deliver the one piece of knowledge that can protect the people who saved but no spurn him – leading to catastrophic consequences.
The City of Among the Stars follows Tankar Holroy, a Lieutenant in the Earth’s Stellar Guard. Tankar gets stranded in space while attempting to deliver a message that will vastly help the Empire in its fight against a rebel group. Tankar is picked up by a ship manned by The People of the Stars, a people who are born and raised on giant starships that function as cities. Tankar’s loyalties and way of life are consistently challenged during his stay on the ship, leading him to make decisions that could have a profound effect on the people around him.
This was a fun read for me, driven by an interesting and unique storyline. The idea of starships as self-sufficient cities floating among the stars is fascinating to me because it paints a picture of a group of people who can go wherever they want without being tethered to a body of land. It leads to space exploration interacting with other organisms living in space – there are limitless opportunities for adventure.
I also thought the political plot lines were well-done. The book is full of tension, as Earth is ruled by the Empire, whose colonization tactics led to the People of the Stars leaving the planet in the first place. There is a rebellion taking place on Earth at the same time, and different religious sects that come into play. The crew of the starship comes into contact with alien invaders, as well. The histories and relationships with all of these groups add layers to the story and create much-needed depth to a plot that may otherwise skim the surface.
This book certainly has its flaws. Having been originally published in the ’60s, there are a few ideals that are clearly outdated. Gender roles is one example, as many women in the book are treated as second-class citizens. On that same note, the dialogue is cheesy and has not held up over time. Despite its flaws, the story was good enough to hold my interest.
The City Among the Stars is an interesting science fiction story with a unique plot line. I recommend fans of the genre check it out.