Starstrike wants to be a simple book. Aliens show up on Earth, and because we’re so much more experienced with war than anyone else, recruit a team of the best soldiers we have to offer to change the balance of power in the galaxy.

But this isn’t pulp, and it isn’t action movie fodder. Though it does try for technothriller in a few places.

Published in 1990, and set a few years after that, there’s some interesting twists on where things have gone, though the Soviet Union is still there, if heavily eroded in this timeline. At any rate, there’s actually a good amount of attention drawn to the reactions of the US and USSR to an alien showing he can shut down all nuclear forces and communications. Attention is paid to the logical consequences.

And… while logical, and actually needed for the novel, it does drag out a bit. Eventually the action gets pried off of Earth, and the main backbone of the novel is the flight out, training, really getting to know a few main characters, and the tension of figuring out how far anyone can trust this alien’s motives, and what can be done about it. The ‘action’ is later, and in many ways not the focus (which is a benefit, just don’t think that’s what you’re getting going in).

It definitely suffers from ‘I’m going not show important pieces of information so you can be surprised later’ a couple of times. It’s a good book overall, with good work on various aliens and technology, but parts feel forced, and the ending kind of rushed.