My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An epic novel of human expansion across the stars. Birthright: The Book of Man is Mike Resnick's masterful contribution to the science fiction genre's sweeping galactic legacy that began with Asimov's Foundation series.
I actually give this 4.5 stars and it would be an honest 5 if not for one small thing, which I will come to soon.
'Birthright: The Book of Man' is an epic commentary telling of the rise and fall of Man as a Galactic species, where we gain the ability to travel into space, between the stars and eventually spread across the entire Galaxy. We have, including Man, 13,042 intelligent races in the galaxy, and we manage to conquer and subjugate just about all of them. And seriously piss them off. This is the general essence of the novel, humankind spread across millions of planets systematically imposing his will on all that we encounter.
Various forms of government are formed and none of them work all that well, because of mainly one thing, Man's arrogance. It's actually quite a cynical view but one that I rather enjoyed and found pretty believable, to be honest. I guess that my own opinion of our species is sometimes tested by what I see happen in the world and also what has happened throughout history, this meant that I can relate to the story. Well, in this tale nothing changes and we carry on just the same, albeit on a much larger scale.
The Birthright universe created by Resnick is nothing short of incredible and, of course, sets the scene for the huge amount of other Birthright novels and short fiction that Resnick has produced. This point brings me to the 'one small thing' that robs the 1/2 star from my review. Having read some of those other Birthright universe works, where Resnick spins some amazing yarns filled with action, adventure often with a fair chunk of humor, this book is a little dull, for want of a better word. The amazing scale of the story and it's thought-provoking nature kept me hooked, but it's a bit light on the action and fun. It is present, but minimally and I found myself wanting things to hot up a bit. This said, all of those other stories that fit into this backdrop (like the Starship series) fill that gap, I guess, and do it very well.
In a nut shell, it's a fabulous read and an impressive display of world-building that is unbeatable. Resnick is an incredible writer that's for certain, and this book demonstrates it loud and clear.
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