My first experience with Michael McCollum was Procyon’s Promise, a book my dad picked up to read on a business trip while waiting at the airport. After reading that book, which is unrelated to this series, I purchased all the other McCollum books I could find. These were some of the first hard-ish science fiction books I remember reading when I was younger. Antares Dawn is the first book in a trilogy, though it was only two books back when I originally picked them up.
The Valeria star system has been cut off from the rest of humanity for the last 125 years due to the explosion of Antares as a supernova. With its foldpoint gone, there was no viable way to leave the Valeria system. Once the shockwave and light from the supernova reached the Valeria system, however, the foldpoint reappeared and a derelict warship came through it at a very high speed.
Richard Drake, the main character in Antares Dawn, is chosen as Fleet Commander for the expedition party chosen to explore beyond the recently reopened foldpoint. His main missions are to try to figure out where the derelict came from and try to reestablish contact with the rest of humanity (and especially Earth). Unfortunately, Drake is a rather stereotypical character, much like many others from the mid 1980s, and he isn’t developed as well as he could be.
The other characters are as similarly stereotypical and flat: the smart and beautiful love interest who holds the keys to making the jumpdrives work; the love interest’s would-be suitor who loses out to the dashing Captain Drake; and a bunch of other forgettable characters which don’t really even matter (at least not in this book). The characters just weren’t given the time to become real, so I never came to really care about any of them.
McCollum does a good job spinning an interesting yarn. With most of starfaring science fiction going the faster-than-light stardrive route, foldpoints don’t get used as often (and fixed foldpoints get used even less). In Antares Dawn, this theoretical phenomenon is explained in such a way that even a layperson like me can understand—to a degree—the physics involved. This is a strong point in most of McCollum’s works.
The alien Ryall introduced in Antares Dawn are interesting, and I would have liked to see a bit more involving them. Unfortunately, only a brief time was spent with one of them, and anything else was left to the other two books in the trilogy. It’s been so long since I read them that I don’t even remember how many more personal interactions are had between Drake and the Ryall.
Even with that, I consider this book one of my favorite “popcorn” books: fun to read every so often, with just enough story and character interest to keep me reading. If you’re looking for a quick, light read with little-to-no emotional involvement required, I recommend Antares Dawn as a good choice.
Release Date: August 1986 (USA)
ISBNs: 0345323130 (9780345323132)
Publisher: Del Rey
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (limited social drinking)
Language: 1 (occasional, mild, deity)
Sexuality: 1 (brief passionate kissing scene, implied sex)
Violence: 1 (space battles, death)