The Stars Must Wait

This book is a novelization of “Night of the Trolls”, which I have already read as part of The Compleat Bolo and Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow. I’m pretty fond of the short story, and this book version didn’t start out strongly — there is a prelude to explain some background, and then the book launches into what feels like the exact text of the short story. You can tell it hasn’t been edited much, because there are minor continuity errors between this first chapter and the prelude. There are other continuity errors as well — the blurb on the back says that the main character goes into stasis in 2002, but his wife dies in 1992 which is meant to be after the main character goes into stasis, and the map that he uses once out of stasis is copyright 2011 (even though the main character claims to have bought it just before going into stasis). Note that these dates are different to those used in the short story. These errors are distracting although the underlying story is still a good one.

However, the good bits of the story are all contained in the short story. This feels like a poorly edited and heavily padded version of that short story, and I think we would have been better off without it. There is in fact a whole heap of seemingly pointless dialogue in the center of the book, where I think what we’re meant to be learning is that post-apocalyptic life isn’t much fun. I think we could have worked that out, and perhaps saved 50 or so pages. Worst of all, Laumer has changed the ending to a much less satisfying one.

I recommend just sticking with the short story.

The Stars Must Wait Book Cover The Stars Must Wait
Keith Laumer

Astronaut John Jackson expects to wake from suspended animation in another world, but instead he opens his eyes a century later to an Earth populated by post-Armageddon nasties