Appointment at Bloodstar

by Stephen Goldin
Series: Family d'Alembert 5
Reviewed date: 2003 Dec 31
Rating: 2
158 pages
Also entitled The Bloodstar Conspiracy
cover art

Appointment at Bloodstar is the fifth in a ten book series based on a novella by E. E. "Doc" Smith. Smith's name is featured in large type on the cover, with Goldin (a relatively unknown writer at the time) in small letters. That's because Smith was a well-known author whose name could sell books. However, save for parts of the first book, the series is entirely Goldin's work. There is one additional item worth mentioning: although this is a ten book series, each book is on the order of 150 pages long, so this isn't much longer than an average modern trilogy.

Appointment at Bloodstar is the only book of the Family d'Alembert series that I have read. However, it stands pretty well on its own. Goldin's writing isn't great--the book has more of a space opera feel than real science fiction, but it's not bad. It's all about excitement and adventure, but part of the fun is killed by Goldin's habit of describing things instead of letting us watch them happen. E.g., instead of showing us that Yvette d'Alembert is a genius secret agent for the Empire, he merely tells us that she is. It's the same information, but it doesn't quite have the same effect as if he would just let the story play out. Basically, Goldin spends too much time playing narrator and too little time on telling the story.

The story is pretty dull. The d'Alembert family runs a circus, but actually they're undercover super-secret agents for the Empire of Earth. These super-heroes traipse about the galaxy foiling evil plots against the Empire. And now they have to prevent the mysterious Lady A from assassinating the heir to the throne. (Seriously. I'm not making this stuff up.)

If you're a fan of E. E. "Doc" Smith, you'll probably like this book. I've read most of Smith's more famous works, and I wonder if Goldin didn't deliberately assume Smith's style when writing the Family d'Alembert series. Well, Goldin doesn't perfectly imitate Smith, but the similarities are enough that a fan of Smith will be a fan of the Family d'Alembert. However, for the most part I don't recommend this book. The style--in fact, the whole space opera genre--is dated and silly.

I give this book a 2 not because it's a bad story, but because it's predictable and dull.

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