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Publisher's Summary

Kip has a secret. A young boy who lives with his uncle at the Starswarm Station research outpost on planet Paradise, he has heard a voice in his head for as long as he can remember. The voice guides him in all his decisions, helping him through situations with useful information and helpful insight.

One day, finally daring to ask the voice some tough questions, Kip discovers that his computer scientist parents implanted an artificial intelligence chip in his skull, which connects with a powerful mainframe computer via satellite. He also learns that his parents died under suspicious circumstances and that his very existence is a well-kept secret that will soon come to light - putting his own life and the whole of outpost Starswarm in grave danger.

©1998 Jerry Pournelle; (P)2000 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"An extremely strong story....plenty of suspenseful action in a well-realized setting." (Booklist)
"This is one you won't want to miss. [A] taut, credible, fast-paced adventure story." (Science Fiction Chronicle)
"SF veteran Pournelle demonstrates his gift for traditional SF adventures in this coming-of-age tale that combines fast-paced action appealing protagonist." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • L.
  • Travelers Rest, SC, United States
  • 05-11-07


I think the Heinlein book others are referring to is actually, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"… and there ARE many similarities to that book (AND to "Citizen of the Galaxy" also, I guess).

MANY of us grew up on Heinlein,. There's "young Heinlein" (directed mostly at kids, about kids).. and there's the "Older Heinlein" that is more adult oriented.

However, the genius in Pournelle's work is that he knows "people".

MANY of us that actually grew up to be Professional Engineers (and such) remember "Young Heinlein" and we went back to re-read those books as adults at some point, and then we are kind of disappointed at how "young an audience" those books were actually written for. Pournelle has taken a "Young Heinlein TYPE" of story, and written it for Adults. NO ONE likes thinking about their favorite TYPES of stories being "For kids"… Pournelle has bridged the gap.. many have tried to do it over the years (probably without knowing themselves what they were trying to do), but Pournelle has actually DONE IT (and probably KNOWS he did it).

Kudos Pournelle!!!! I'd give it 5 stars, but it's not "the book I judge all others by"… however, I've already sold 8 more friends on buying it to read (or listen to)… It's that good.

There's just no GOOD way to explain the essence of the story itself except to say, "it's the Heinlein-type book you THOUGHT you were going back to re-read as an adult"…

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • RAU47
  • Houston, TX USA
  • 08-30-08

Well written and mysterious

I am always better at saying what I feel, rather than writing it. So this review may not be well-written. In short, the book is great. I've read it twice since I purchased it. The author develops the characters in a wonderful way and it's hard to tell where the book is heading as it develops. I am always a fan of books which take in the future, but which are realistic in what might actually happen as the human race advances in technology. This book does a great job at describing places, events, and the state of the government.I was truly amazed when I found out who the voice was in Kip's head. This book is definately worth getting.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lifesavr
  • 599 Spruce Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95407
  • 10-04-09

Enjoyable Story

I guess this reminded me of my younger years reading Sci-Fi books, where the major character was a young boy coming of age. It has to do with a wrong done to his parents that needs to be corrected. This is your basic Good vs. Evil story. But I liked all the characters and wanted to know what happened to them. I liked the high end techno stuff in the book, made it very up to date. Actually listen to the complete book in one day. That is another nice thing about it, the book is long. I wish there was more by this author on Audible.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lars
  • San Mateo, CA, United States
  • 07-24-07

Heinlein??? For this book who cares.

I am a Huge fan of Robert Heinlein's books for adult readers.
After seeing the reviews above comparing this to Heinlein's book, I listened to this book before hearing or reading 'Citizen of the Galaxy' and I really enjoyed it. The story is well written, and half way through, I couldn't put it down.
This is good Science Fiction. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good listen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is an excellent tale in good science fiction fashion. Its the type of tale that you cannot wait to get back to. I highly recomment it for readers of all ages.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Reminds me of Heinlein

Starswarm reminded me of a Heinlein read. This book is similar in some respects to Citizen of the Galaxy, but there is also some other aspects, such as, alien and artificial intelligence, that are explored. The story is about a child coming of age who discovers that he has a God like voice in his head. This entity tutors and helps him on his adventures. The child is raised by a guardian on a alien world that can be classified as hostile. His identity and reason for being there has been kept a secret and is slowly discovered throughout the novel. The child acts fairly adult for his age, which can make a coming of age story more enjoyable for everyone. The narration was great and I didn't have a dull or boring moment to complain about.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gabriel
  • Ballwin, MO, USA
  • 02-03-08

Good Read

I got this book after listening to Jerry on the TWIT podcast. It was a thought provoking sci-fi adventure that will appeal to younger readers as well as older readers. I can't help but think that Jerry has a not-to-subtle message to today's business and industry.
But don't get lost in that. This was an imaginative tale and a superbly written story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Instant Classic

As a big fan of the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres, I was extremely pleased with this audiobook. The pace of the story never leaves a dull moment and you will find yourself looking forward to your next session, even if it is your commute to work.

There aren't many books that I can recommend across the board, but this is definitely one of them. Like the Chronicles of Narnia, it may be enjoyed by young and old alike. Jerry does a fantastic job of pulling in technology, pushing the imagination, and making it all believable at the same time.

The only thing left wanting is a couple of more books to round out a series. Keep them coming.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Just Okay

Well, the storytelling was good. I was reminded of Heinlein, though perhaps it was because the narrator was one used for many of his novels. The biggest strike against it was its predictability. I had basically gotten the plot down very early on. Decent storyline, if basic. Same with character development. Technology wise it was mostly believable, though as is so often the case I felt that computers were too human like and humans not human enough. Still, I definitely enjoyed listening to it, though I was never challenged or wowed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good book, but!

I liked this book a lot, the main players were likable. However I think this book is spot on with a few cosmetic changes to Robert Heimlines book "Citizen of the Galaxy". That doesn’t make it bad just very similar to something I already listened too.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Mara
  • 10-24-14

Interesting story, mediocre narration

The story was quite interesting and original enough to enjoy. Well paced, too. I especially enjoyed the idea of the artificial intelligence (AI) chip in the boy's head, as well as some other surprises of the planet.

The problem though was the narrator. I can't say that he was exactly bad, he tried to vary the voices and to put emotions into them. That he managed good enough. But - oh my - I hate his voice as such, the vibe to it! I can't stand it, it gives a very weird feeling to the book and it totally doesn't fit well with it. And he can't make woman's voices at all! It felt VERY weird to listen to him as Gwen, the AI, you couldn't picture a woman there even in your wildest dreams and you have to listen to it a lot and pretend you understand it as a woman speaking. I have to admit, it put me off a bit. I don't know what could've been the solution - maybe another narrator for women roles... Or a different narrator altogether.

But to conclude - the story beat the narration and it's a good choice of a book to listen to.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Leslie
  • 05-08-14

Good Yarn

What did you like most about Starswarm?

The story flowed from one moment to the next which made it hard to stop reading

Who was your favorite character and why?

All the characters are good for the story

Have you listened to any of Lloyd James’s other performances? How does this one compare?

very good performance

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did listen to the whole book in one sitting, and I will do it again in a few days

Any additional comments?

Being an older reader (late 50s) I really enjoyed the book, but so did my teenage daughter who was as enthralled as I, the book is based around a characters for younger readers; but the author does very well to connect to all ages... it is a very good tale.