A repackaged collection of the middle third of Anderson’s Nicholas van Rijn stories; most of these feature David Falkayn, as you’d expect. I must say I liked old Nicky far better when I was younger. He’s interesting, but not really enough to build a series around.
These tales are pure space opera, and neither van Rijn nor Falkayn are particularly sympathetic characters. They’re also a platform for Anderson to build worlds, something no science fiction author has done as well; he takes a set of premises about the planet, and builds an appropriate environment and interesting characters–not aliens, characters–to populate it. That part is wonderful.
There’s one excellent story in here: Satan’s Planet, the book’s only novel, is terrific, though a little unwieldy. A significant subplot is built around what we now call data mining.
This review was originally published on LibraryThing.