“Last Star Standing” by Spaulding Taylor

This is a great Sci/Fi Dystopian novel written by a polished writer with great chops that make the tale more interesting. Many dystopian stories are about a rebel growing up to become a leader. Along the way, it’s almost mandatory to spend some time in the autocrat’s jail. Well, this hero starts the story in jail and spends about half the book there. So the action in fifty percent of the book consists of dreams, flashbacks, and narration, the most difficult of plot styles to keep interesting.

The second risk Taylor takes is to make a great deal of the conflict internal to the hero. Once again, most writers mess up this kind of writing with a whole lot of “telling” and not much “showing.” However, if done properly it adds to the complexity of our reaction to the story.

The difference in this book is difficult to figure, but it comes down to that most basic reader response; we have to care. We have to want the main character to succeed. We have to watch his mistakes and his triumphs with the caring concern of proud (and sometimes not so proud) parents.

The tale is set against the background of a great deal of careful but elaborate world-building, especially of the aliens that inhabit Earth. Another interesting technique: these beings are not frightening or beautiful because of reams of physical description. We only get a quick description of what a blundicant looks like. What affects us, though, is the hero’s emotional reaction to the semitransparent skin and the organs shifting repulsively behind it. It is the emotion we remember, not the details.

For the rest, the story has plenty of action, great suspense, and wonderful character development in the hero, providing a depth of conflict and theme rarely seen in Sci-Fi.

This is not a book for those fastidious about form and veracity. At times it’s pretty weird, stretching our suspension of disbelief about as far as even fantasy allows, but never quite going over the edge into “Oh, come on!”

A highly enjoyable story by an expert writer, highly recommended for all Sci-Fi fans.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)



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