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Literature / Firestar Series

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If we can send a man to the moon, why can't we send a man to the moon?

The Firestar Series is a set of four Science Fiction novels by Michael F. Flynn, consisting of Firestar, Rogue Star, Lodestar, and Falling Stars.

In 1972, Mariesa van Huyten, heir apparent to her grandfather's corporate empire, witnesses a shooting star in the daylight over the Grand Tetons. The slightest change in the trajectory, she knows, could have been catastrophic. It marks her for life.

Twenty-seven years later, the secret space program she has been developing with select members of scion companies prepares to begin test flight, as Mariesa selects students from her latest acquisition, Mentor Academies, to ensure the future of the space program — her only hope to fight asteroids, and the highest dreams of her inner circle.

But the road is beset with enemies: political opposition, competitors, saboteurs, and not least, their own vaunting ambition.

Humanity, though, for all its flaws, is a race built to vaunt.

This book series provides examples of:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Believe everything, and you had to hold Bullock responsible for the slave trade, the Spanish Inquisition, and the birth of disco."
  • Artificial Limbs: By Lodestar, they're quite good. Take some intensive neural=path conditioning to adjust to and are in the Uncanny Valley of semblance to a real arm, but still.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Considered the default setting for nerds at the time of the Witherspoon takeover, Tani Pandya being the most prominent example.
  • Asteroid Miners: A lucrative and untapped industry, and thus a convenient excuse for Mariesa to work on her secret anti-asteroid mission.
  • Black and Nerdy: Hobie ends up as the frontrunner for the Nobel Prize. He's actually a jock in high school; his former classmates never quite get over this.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: Known as the EIEI/O, or "Macdonald" for short. People who use them are stigmatized as "cheeseheads", but the technology isn't nearly as dystopian or groundbreaking as its detractors make it out to be. (Pretty sweet for severe physical handicaps, though.)
  • Broken Pedestal: Roberta does not appreciate being manipulated.
  • Canon Welding: Beginning in Firestar, Mariesa has hired the Detweiler group and repeatedly mentions their economic forecasts. They're characters from Flynn's psychohistoric conspiracy thriller In the Country of the Blind. The implication is that the societal trends in the series have been encouraged by the most decent secret society and their longtime rival society is still fighting them. Later, Mariesa has a meeting with Gloria Bennett and Jimmy Caldero who present themselves as potential investors. Then Jimmy Poole considers using the code from "the old Beaumont Worm" for a project.
  • The Charmer: Ned DuBois translates this into a fruitful run of serial adultery. He assuages his guilty conscience about it by telling himself he's just a Chick Magnet who can't help himself.
  • Chaste Hero: Jacinta Rosario is part of an inner-city female-empowerment sort of chastity movement.
  • Chekhov's Asteroid: Averted-ish. Since Mariesa has dedicated her life to preventing the next major Earth-impacting asteroid, the reader would expect one to come along. Word of God said that Flynn hadn't decided at the beginning whether that would happen. In the end, there's a somewhat different threat.
  • The Chessmaster: Mariesa.
  • Class Reunion: This is where Roberta closes her revenge deal with Jimmy Poole.
  • Colony Drop: Mariesa's lifelong terror. Thanks to the efforts of some Abusive Precursors, her efforts to prevent it ironically make the threat much more immediate.
  • The Conscience: Belinda Karr, Keith Richardson. Mariesa's being underhanded indeed when she knows that one of them would disapprove and presses ahead anyway.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Klondike-American is fond of these, though only Cyrus Attwood is hard-core evil.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of Lodestar depicts a two-page dream sequence, and not a mining operation on an asteroid as the observer would assume.
  • Double Agent: Jimmy Poole runs Poole Securities, putting out the best security software money can commission. He is also the notorious illicit hacker Crackman. Sometimes, the personae... conflict.
  • Dumb Blonde: Leilah Frazetti. She matures a lot over the course of the series, but that's more a matter of guts than brains.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Positive character development usually means gravitating toward a happy medium, more on the "stoic" side of the line but much warmer than the extreme stoicism of the Van Huytens.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: The Witherspoon Class of 2001 is so in the thick of every major event that the conspiracy theorists must be going off the hook. (Okay, so there definitely is a conspiracy centered on Witherspoon, but you couldn't blame people for positing a much more sinister and further-reaching one.)
  • Future Slang: So much of it, it comes in generations. When not tied to the new technologies, these convey concepts not on the slang radar of real-life youth culture: for instance "herbie", meaning "sophomoric and also kind of dorky", or "bone charlie", meaning "deep-down reliable dude."
  • Geek Physique: Jimmy Poole is obese due to a faintly transhumanist disdain for his "hardware".
  • Go-Getter Girl: Jenny Ribbon, thanks to her stage mom.
  • Goth: Styx — Mariesa wonders if she defies stereotypes or if it's simply a stereotype she's not familiar with.
  • Inner City School: Witherspoon, before Belinda Karr gets to it.
  • Insufferable Genius: Jimmy Poole. As such, he's rather low on scruples — and given his computer skills, things get interesting.
  • Interclass Romance: Barry and Mariesa. Justified because he's a schoolteacher and she's practically on the Fiction 500.
  • Iron Lady: Mariesa. Less so after she resigns the chairship, but her dialogue is still formal to the point of iciness, especially when she gets defensive.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Jimmy Poole has quite the complex about this.
  • Kill Sat: Mariesa intentionally develops this technology with the hopes of vaporizing asteroids. Then the U.S. government catches wind of it and tries exploiting the military applications...
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Jimmy Poole goes to astounding lengths in Rogue Star to get laid.
  • No Mere Windmill: In an ironic sort of way.
  • The Runaway: Jenny Ribbon. Under constant pressure from her family to excel, she leaves home and disappears a month before graduation. She later re-emerges in the series as "Mother Smythe," a respected and benevolent figure who helps troubled children find a second chance in life.
  • Save Our Students: You can scarcely turn around in this universe without hitting some ambitious program to educate the disadvantaged — Witherspoon not least. "Mother Smythe" with her chaste sisterhoods is probably the most drastic example.
  • Sexy Secretary: Ned mistakes Mariesa for this.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Male example in Jimmy Poole, after Roberta helps prep him for their class reunion.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Ned spends so much time thinking about how he doesn't miss his estranged wife, it's clear he's fooling himself.
  • Shock Value Relationship: Mariesa first asks Barry on a date primarily to shock her stuffy old-money mother.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: A very practical sort of idealistic.
  • Smug Snake: Cyrus Attwood.
  • Strawman Political: Surprisingly thin on the ground — all political sides from paleocons to progressives are shown to have their points — but Dottie in the People's Crusades is a Straw Feminist if ever there was one.
  • Take a Third Option: Barry enacts a courageous one against Cyrus Attwood, though it doesn't work out too well for him personally.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Crops up a fair bit; the most dramatic example is between Chase Coughlin and Jimmy Poole.
  • Time Skip: There's a pretty significant time skip between Rogue Star and Lodestar, with a couple significant events that happened in the interim mentioned only in passing at the start of the book.
  • Tough Act to Follow: In-Universe, Tani Pandya's semiautobiographical novel Taj Mahal not only becomes this, but also makes people expect her to write about nothing but The Indian Experience for the rest of her career.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The first book was written in 1997 and set in 1999. It still feels like near-future.
  • Workaholic: Mariesa, to the point where she regards two months in intensive care after a stillbirth that nearly kills her as quite enough rest already, thank you.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Azim, Jo-Jo, and Zipper stand in front of a rusted playground gate to ward off the members of a rival gang. Bonus points for them quoting "Horatius at the Bridge" as they do so.

Alternative Title(s): Lodestar, Falling Stars