The Killing Star

ISBN: 0380770261
ISBN 13: 9780380770267
By: Charles R. Pellegrino George Zebrowski

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Reader's Thoughts


Out of print and pricey to buy used. Supposed to be one of the better hard sci-fi novels.The premise is fascinating, but oh so bleak.


I finally finished this book, and it left me with a difficult task in appointing a star rating. It probably intrigued me on levels and will definitely be a book I bring up in many a science fiction discussion but I also found myself breezing through parts of it, and shaking my head at a few others. But the fundamental premise is one that I'll definitely bring up in any discussion of looking for life on other planets, or reading any story of first contact with an alien species. Short summary: Turns out being able to travel at speeds fast enough for interstellar travel also means you have the ability to destroy a planet with a bombardment, and what's more, so could any other species to you. And there would be little to you could do to stop it, so it's basically like the Cold War if a nuclear first strike almost guaranteed total victory. It's enough to make you question whether we should be announcing our presence out into space at all. Those hoping for salvation from friendly green men may be making a leap of faith indeed.The story itself deals with the few survivors of earth after such an attack. Quite bleak as you could imagine. The book employs a back and forth narrative, switching to different perspectives where we get a bunch of other speculative science fiction discussions, cloned dinosaurs as pets, an accidental genetically engineered bird flu that leaves crops at the mercy of unchecked insects, people addicted to virtual reality, etc. A large section deals with survivors led by a clone of Jesus and clone of Buddha trying to survive, and honestly while I'm up for a science fiction book that respectfully and intelligently approaches religion, there's a lot of stumbles there and it treats generic liberal religious pluralism as a little too much of a shocking revelation (it also brings up some theories about Jesus' life that I think are not credible but I won't bog down the review here). The character study of a person told his is the 2nd coming of Jesus is interesting, it where I feel the book is in turn preaching to me that it fails a bit. Still, definitely worth checking out for all fans of serious science fiction. Just uh...don't look for a happy story. This a tale of a bleak, cold, world where humanity is all but stamped out just because somebody else thought it might be a threat down the road.

James White

Interesting sci-fi tale of naively awakening a nearby by society who summarily removes us.

Robin Ferguson

The follow up to 'Flying to Valhalla' though it was written in 94 it was frighteningly correct as to where we are going as humans. It was philosophically questioning.


I read this book a long time ago in high school, and for whatever reason, it's resonated with me more than some 95% of all other novels I've ever read. I find myself referring to it a lot in philosophical discussions (not that anyone else has ever heard of it), and even just thinking about it a lot.I think it's the cold, brutal, hard logic of the aliens that really draws me in. It's so coldly rational and inescapable, and a welcome counter-point to most of the rest of science fiction. It's also, unfortunately, more likely than I think we give credit to.

Pat Buchanan

The biggest surprise book of my life. Not sure if I was just in the right mood or what, but this book caught me off guard with it's incredible writing, the deep characters and the rather unique story. This is the kind of sci-fi book you search and search for, and rarely find. I would put this book in the top 10 sci-fi books I've ever read - shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Old Man's War and Enders Game. Great, and different thinking about how man could use the natural aspects of space in order to hide from their enemy.The problem is trying to find a copy of this book - I searched and searched, and finally found one that was a "normal" price. I'm not sure why people would think that someone would spend $200+ a copy, but that is what they were selling for at t he time on eBay. Luckily, I found mine for cover price.Years later, and this book is still on my mind. I really wish they would have written a sequel, as I would have like to have known how they handled "it".

Thomas Cardin

Very influential. Very frightening! The science is sound and the reasoning is innescapable.I list this easily as one of the top books that have changed how I think about our place in this universe.


Rule 1. Aliens will believe their survival is more important than our survival.Rule 2. Wimps don't become top dogs.Rule 3. Aliens will assume the the first two rules apply to us as well.


A Sceince fiction book where the Fiction is that it has not happened yet. The Science is pure and correct. All done while telling a pretty good story. And as would be the case in a true science story, it does not work all that well for all.

Julie Amador

I read this when it first came out. While I enjoyed the concept, I was disappointed in it for many reasons. SPOILERS stop reading if you haven't read it. I was most put off by the depressing aspect that nearly all humans had been extinguished and our future was grim. And the only characters I really liked were the reincarnation of Jesus and Buddha. It just left me in a bad mood and honestly is the only book I wish I would never have read. I did not feel hopeful or uplifted by the end, just depressed. I'm sure some loved it but it just not what I was looking for when I read the back cover.

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