The Science Fiction Canon Needed this Book!
“Three Against the Stars” is a rollicking space novel that follows the adventures of three marines who refer to themselves as “The Three Musketeers.” A plot against Earth is the main driving narrative force, but the true fun of this novel comes from the well-conceived alien life and the overall lighthearted tone of the book. Don’t be confused however, this is a gritty, military/space novel. But somehow Joe Bonadonna, much like Alexandre Dumas, manages to place the focus on the joyous “esprit de corps” rather than on the horrors of war. For a quick, enjoyable read look no further.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the development of the alien races. The two main alien species that are players in this story are generally humanoid, but are in one case of reptilian and in one case of feline descent. The feline characters are especially good since they are more or less human beings with fur and faces like lions, tigers, etc. As I was reading, it occurred to me that it was strange that I hadn’t seen more characters like these in other works. The only thing that really came to mind was “ThunderCats” and perhaps a couple throwaway James T. Kirk conquests on “Star Trek.” A feline looking alien race is a great, highly-visual narrative device that inherently suggests all sorts of plot possibilities. I hope that Bonadonna continues to explore these ideas and this universe.
The felines are in the midst of waging interstellar battle, and there is a nice scene early in the book at a slave colony that shows their evil nature. However, there is also a feline character who hangs out with the aforementioned “Three Musketeers.” This character, Makki, is probably the most sympathetic character in the novel. He aspires to be accepted into the Marine corps, but his alien status is an obstacle to that goal. Makki does not harbor any resentment towards his unfair exclusion, and his actions in the final battle are the most heroic of any in the novel.
It’s been too long since I’ve read a good science fiction romp which is gritty but doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’ll enjoy Bonadonna’s efficient writing style. Characters can get killed off in a heartbeat, sometimes in mid-sentence, and Bonadonna is clever enough not to tip his hand that such actions are imminent. This technique keeps you on guard as a reader, and increases the overall intensity level of the book. The action is plentiful and professionally handled. “Three Against the Stars” is golden age Science-Fiction in every sense of the word!