Reviewed date: 2005 Dec 28
For hundreds of years mankind has been fighting a war of extermination with the alien Duglaari, and the inevitable end is near for humanity. Fleet Commander Jay Palmer loses a sizable portion of his forces in a failed defense of the Sylvanna system, and it is now only a matter of time before the numerically superior Duglaari forces exterminate every last human from the galaxy.
Humanity has a secret hope, though: Fortress Earth. Three hundred years ago the planet Earth announced they were pulling out of the war with the Duglaari. They weren't abandoning humanity, they said, but they would rejoin the war effort presently with some new secret weapons.
With the end in sight for humanity, Fortress Earth makes good on its promise. Six Solarians (aka Earthmen) show up and claim they can win the war. They enlist the help of Fleet Commander Jay Palmer and fly their ship into Duglaari space, ostensibly to surrender humanity to the Duglaari. In reality, they just boast about the military prowess of Fortress Earth, thus luring the Duglaari to attack Earth with overwhelming force.
The Duglaari send half their military force to Earth, where they are promptly wiped out when the Solarians purposely cause the sun to nova. What makes this so infuriating (to the reader) is that the nova-causing device is well-known to both humanity and the Duglaari (and to the reader.) The Duglaari would have to be incredibly stupid to send the bulk of their military strength into a position where they could be wiped out.
So The Solarians is nothing more than a hack job with an idiot plot. I hear it is Norman Spinrad's first novel, and his inexperience shows. (Presumably his writing gets better, because he is at the top of his field.)
Oh, and half the book consists of the Solarians preaching to Jay Palmer about why their system of group marriage and sexual freedom is better than traditional monogamous marriage.
"Know thy enemy," said Ortega. "Do you realize that we're now closer to Duglaar than any human beings have ever been before?"
"Bully for us," muttered Palmer. "Somehow, it reminds me of a bunch of guinea pigs sneaking into a laboratory."