Star Born brings an interesting twist to science fiction (at least from my experience and perspective). Norton explores the differences of two groups of humanity that have developed differently for decades. That isn’t unusual in itself; what is unique is the subtle differences formed by climate, civilization, governance and genetic strains.
The group that colonized Astra settled into a peaceful existence with the natives of the planet. Technological skills were minimal, but a healthy symbiosis with the planet had developed. Norton obviously styled the settlers after Native American Indians. The “Westerners” or Explorers from Earth are full of strife and struggle with the influences that a complex culture places on people: one character, Raf Kurbi, from Earth stumbled into trouble when he mentioned feelings reminiscent of prejudice. That was an unacceptable faux pas regardless of the instinctual reaction an alien race brought up within him.
In the end, you have three main characters and four racial groups. Dalgard is chief of the characters and represents the Astaran colonists. Raf has traveled with new Terran explorers. Sssurri represents the Astaran Mer-people. Finally, Those Others from the past thought to be extinct.
Dalgard, on a quest to enter manhood, (joined by Sssuri) stumble upon evidence that the evil Others had returned. While Sssuri seeks help against this ancient enemy, Dalgard explores the ruined city of the Others to determine the extent of the return. Meanwhile, Raf and his party have joined forces with the Others who are desirous of assistance against their ancient enemy: the Mer-people. Raf and Dalgard slowly move towards each other and eventually bridge the gap created by a century of differences.
Raf must choose between obedience to his commanding officer who supports the Others and the unknown human being hunted by the Others that his gut tells him to trust. Dalgard, must stand in the gap to assist the Mer-people against this new onslaught of danger.
The decisions made in conclusion leave much to ponder. Are the two groups of humans to separate to be rejoined? Or are they not separated enough? Are the differences to great or to small? What benefit would be gained by rejoining contact now?
Overall? Fun book. Plenty of action, lot of intriguing interaction between the various groups. If you have time, pick this up and read it. Light reading with a creative environment but thought provoking if you want to spend the time and ponder it.