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Naked to the Stars
By Gordon R. Dickson

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Naked to the Stars

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Naked to the Stars
By Gordon R. Dickson
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 0-7862-5736-9
Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by Leo Johnston - December 11, 2003

Naked to the Stars is standard Gordon R. Dickson fare. The story is fast paced, set in a futurist world, and is un-put-downable! In this story, Dickson introduces us to Cal Truent, a gung-ho soldier with a problem. During a mission he takes a hit. His injuries are repairable, except for one problem - he's lost sixteen-hours worth of memories. What has he forgotten? Cal doesn't know, and neither does anyone else. Due to this lapse in memory, his superiors label him as a security risk. For his heroism, he is promoted. However, due to the security risk that he might pose he is promoted out of the military and turned into a diplomat. Something that for Cal seems to be a fate worse than death!!

In his new role as a Contacts Officer, Cal sets out to clear his name and regain his memories. A task that Cal finds is even more difficult than adjusting to being a bureaucrat...

Naked to the Stars is a relatively short novel, yet within its page's Dickson packs a very detailed and riveting story. Despite despising being relegated to 'contacts', Cal soon finds that he is good in his new job. A fact that causes him no end of conflict when he finds that his new job puts him in direct conflict with some of the very same military men whom he once saw as mirror images of himself.

While telling Cal's story and his search for the truth, Dickson also offers insights into how cultural prejudices can affect the course, and outcome, of a war. In this case, the social and military conflict depicted are played out between the humans and their perceived enemy, the Paumons.

Not only does Naked to the Stars offer some scathing social commentary, but is also a great science fiction war story in its own right. Cal is a compelling character, and he is surrounded by realistic humans, and aliens. Best of all, Dickson places Cal in an almost impossible situation, and then deftly extricates him from the morass that he finds himself trapped in. Naked to the Stars is an all-around excellent read! I also recommend Soldier, Ask Not as another excellent example of Dickson's science fiction war stories.

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