This brings together two of my great loves – Sci-Fi and Rock Music in a futuristic world of upheaval.
23 December 2017
I should say that this is no easy feat. Star Turn has about 40 characters who are there from start to finish, with maybe another 60 characters playing bit roles. And then there are about five story arcs in this novel, all intersecting with each other here and there. I managed to keep track of all these characters and arcs without any re-reading. I give full credit to the author in bringing us a well-crafted story.
The main character of Star Turn is Marc Grabchick, a rising rock star in a galactic empire that is in the early stages of a revolution. His music is connecting with the youth who want a better galaxy. While Marc claims to be no politician, there are forces pushing Marc to lead the youth. This youth movement becomes known as the Freaks—and are they ever rebelling against the known order. In essence, Star Turn is about a futuristic hippie movement, and it’s not hard to see more than a few analogies and allusions to the 1960s on Earth.
To counter the Freaks in this story are the Politicians (my word, not Opher’s), who in control of the Empire. The Politicians are ostensibly about keeping civil order and creating a better society, but Opher paints them as individuals maneuvering to increase their own power base in the Empire. They care little for the people they govern.
While Opher introduces us to some new technology and interesting aliens, more of the author’s effort is expended on the sciences of psychology, sociology, and political science—very similar to how Isaac Asimov constructed his Robot & Foundation series.
One thing that Opher does better than Asimov is how he puts more emotion into the various scenes. For me, the most vivid scene was the time a mafia thug silently broke into the bedroom of Marc’s bandmate Aggie. In the darkness, Aggie could only sense the presence of the thug as the thug watched her. Not only did I feel Aggie’s fear, I could feel the sense of power the thug had over Aggie. Then “darkness moved in darkness,” and I could feel the punches and kicks and slams into the wall as Aggie was beaten up.
Another interesting aspect of Star is how it can be read at different levels. I can imagine myself under a tree on a hot summer day with a cool drink at my side, spending a few hours with an entertaining and easy read—and I just might learn something about my own world. Or I can see Star Turn being taken to a book club where it can spawn many philosophical discussions about our world and times. For example, Opher paints Marc and the Freaks as driven by sex and mind-altering substances, which left this reader wondering whether their vision of their galaxy as something that could actually be implemented. Yet when readers see the motivations of the Politicians, they too have their own version of hedonism (acquiring power and influence) that puts their judgement into question. In essence, neither group is capable of good governance (in my opinion).
I’ve only read one book by Opher. I will be reading more. This writer deserves more popularity.
12 September 2014