Rod – he hates being called Rodney – was sentenced to six years in prison for burning down part of a National Forest. He set fire to a dead, fallen tree, but a real fire a few days earlier and 20 miles or so away, caused by campers who never got caught, killed two people, their farm animals and burned a lot of forest. As part of his initial processing, Rod has a session with the prison psychologist where he tells his tale about why he came to set fire to a tree in a National Forest.
While driving to his camp site, he finds an alien boy who leads him to a spaceship, which is almost out of fuel. The boy and his father need iron to help the ship refuel itself and feed them. Rod is able to supply the iron – for a price. He wants the ship which includes a sentient computer. The boy’s father agrees and they take off. Reaching one of the League of Suns worlds, the boy’s father is ambushed in what is claimed to be an unfinished duel. Rod challenges the attacker to a fight with no weapons, just hands and feet. Disposing of him, Rod finds himself king of all suns owned by the attacker and the boy’s father. Rod likes the idea of being a rich king with servants and lots of wives, he sets out to explore his possessions, causing havoc among the locals with his radical ideas about social justice, like freeing servants and wives who want to leave. Meanwhile, his computer acquires a sense of humor as it interacts with Rod.
Along the way, he manages to pick up a lot more suns, and a few enemies. Wanting to set things straight with the authorities on Earth about the forest fire, he did not expect a prison term and having to talk to a screwy doctor. How Rod overcomes his tribulations will leave readers with an approving smile and a chuckle now and then.
With King of a Thousand Suns, James T. Stewart takes readers on a wild and irreverent adventure across the stars, filled with amusing and sometimes thought provoking interludes. Rod’s universe is filled with aliens who control advanced technology, enjoying prosperity under a rigid social structure, which he turned on its head, not always appreciated by the establishment.
Readers can mull over the social aspects of the novel and the author’s solutions, but these do not detracted from what is a very humorous read. In many ways, this novel reminds me of Keith Laumer’s books and Retief’s improbable adventures in the intergalactic diplomatic service, underpinned by thinly veiled commentary on humanity and our social systems. If you simply want to be entertained without having to set your mind into overdrive, King of a Thousand Suns will leave you satisfied.
About the Author
Mr. Stewart graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Science, helping pay for his education by first working at Arcata Redwood Company in the summers as a laborer, and later making more money selling encyclopedias! In 1968, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and, after 11 months training in Electronic Warfare, was assigned to Germany for three years. Two years later, Stewart had a dream about a leave he planned taking back in Northern California. His book, King of a Thousand Suns, began as a hand-written summary of that dream in a notebook he kept by his bunk. Stewart returned to the book many times over the years, rewriting, revising and finishing it in January 2015.
You can find King of a Thousand Suns on Amazon.com.