Jack Williamson & James Gunn,
Star Bridge
(Ace, 1955; Tor, 2014)

Star Bridge is a newly reprinted, 1955 novel written by James E. Gunn from an opening chapter and outline by Jack Williamson. The Terran galactic empire is a repressive one, ruled over by the Eron company. Only Eron knows the secret of the Tubes -- the "star bridge" of the title -- that link the distant colonized worlds together. But there are those intent on bringing the corporation down, and someone has hired mercenary Alan Horn to assassinate its general manager.

In the process of completing his mission, Horn encounters Wu, an extraordinarily long-lived man with a remarkable animal companion, and Wendre Kohlnar, his prey's daughter. Eron may be powerful, but its directors are still power-hungry and anxious to fill the void left by the murdered GM.

In addition to trying to stay alive, Horn must learn who hired him -- and why.

Star Bridge is an adventure novel that also contains quite a bit of philosophy. Gunn is clearly a deep thinker. The characters frequently ruminate over the human condition and the myriad dilemmas we, as a species, face. In between the chapters, a mysterious historian also offers stream-of-consciousness thoughts on these matters. Some may find this slows the story down, but I found it thought-provoking. It added layers to what might otherwise have been a superficial adventure story.

According to Gunn's afterword, Star Bridge has remained in print in one place or another since its original publication. I hadn't heard of it before, but I'm glad it has been given a new lease.

book review by
Scott Promish

7 February 2015

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