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Full Version: Saga of Cuckoo (part 2): Wall Around A Star
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"Wall Around A Star" is the second of two books. Together the two books are called the "Cuckoo Saga," written by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson.

Book one: Farthest Star (1975 - Ballantine Books)
Book Two: Wall Around A Star (1983 - Ballantine Books)

I did not enjoy this book as much as I did the first one in the set, but “Wall Around A Star” was interesting enough to keep me turning pages to see what happens next. Judging by writing styles, I believe that the first book, “Farthest Star,” was written by Jack Williamson and the second book was written by Frederik Pohl. I generally enjoy stories by Jack Williamson more than I do Frederik Pohl stories. Do not get me wrong though, I do like Pohl’s work too, it is just that reading Pohl does not generally give me the same king of warm fuzzy feelings that I get from reading Jack Williamson stories.

“Wall Around A Star” takes place about 15 years (I do not remember precisely – I finished reading this book a couple weeks ago) after the events that take place in the first book. This book introduces a new main character, Jen Babylon, which works well with the perspective and style changes of a different author. Ben Pertin was the main character in “Farthest Star.” In “Wall Around A Star,” the main character is Jen Babylon, and he is a more likable fellow than Ben Pertin, especially in this second book. Ben was on a downward spiral in the last book. In this book, 15 or so years later, Ben’s character has slipped even further into a depressing state.

Dr. Jen Babylon is a professor of linguistics, with multiple PhDs, who gets three mysterious calls, two urgently requesting his help at Cuckoo, and one warning him to stay away, or else. Even more mysterious is that one of those calls for help was from Ben Purtin, an old friend who had died in a diving accident years before. Against his better judgment, Jen Babylon is talked into sending a copy of himself to Cuckoo, via faster than light tachyon transmission, to help with their urgent linguistic needs.

Sending a copy of oneself via tachyon transmission is easy. It only takes a few moments of your time. After the transmission, you go back to your normal life as if nothing happened. However, if you are the copy that was transmitted, it is a one way trip that changes your life forever. This is what the copy of Jen Babylon finds out when he discovers that he is the one that was transmitted to Cuckoo Station. Cuckoo Station is in orbit around a vast object in space, which is about the size of an entire solar system. Despite Cuckoo’s vast volume, its total mass is less than that of air. Even so, the object that is Cuckoo has a solid surface, a breathable atmosphere, and very light, by earthly standards, gravity at its surface. Up in orbit though, at Cuckoo Station, the just arrived copy of Dr. Jen Babylon suddenly finds himself in a weightless environment.

The rest of the adventure is about learning how to translate the native language of Cuckoo into something they can understand, dealing with escalating conflicts between various races that inhabit Cuckoo Station and that inhabit Cuckoo itself, and finding out just what the massive object, that has come to be called Cuckoo, is.

Personally, I figured out what Cuckoo was before the end of the last book, but that is because I have a few decades of sci-fi under my belt. Wink