Commander Zara Darien of the Shimuran Starship Command (SSC) is escorting a flagship, under the command of her father, when they are suddenly attacked by space pirates. In the process of attempting to depart the area by use of a bore-hole one of the pirate's missiles was also caught in the temporal corridor and when it detonated it created a rift that threw Zara and the flagship into an unknown area. When the bore-hole closed leaving the ships in space, the flagship was caught in the gravitational pull of an orange globe and could not pull free and crashed right before Zara's eyes. Zara is now all alone in an unknown galaxy and in emotional shock over witnessing the death of her father when she finds herself face-to-face with an alien craft. After a warning blast accidentally hits the other ship and causes it to crash, Zara realizes that she must save the man in the ship and return him to his blue planet even though this will break some of the rules she is governed by through the Universal Laws adopted by the Alliance of Sentient Planets.
David is amazed when he awakes on the alien ship and his body is completely restored to its pre-cryogenic state, plus he is even further amazed at the other technological wonders to be found on the ship. With no way to communicate verbally Zara and David spend time on the ship learning about each other through observation and actions. When the ships computer (which David later discovers is an artificial intelligence) creates a translation program, Zara and David have already developed a bond which quickly deepens when they have the ability to talk to and understand each other.
To make restitution for the destruction of the rocket ship and because Earth now knows other sentient beings exist, Zara extends an invitation to Earth to join the Alliance and offers to give Earth the knowledge to make space crafts like hers. Even though Zara really has no choice but to offer what she has to Earth, she is concerned with the planet's violent history and worries that they cannot set aside their petty differences and work together among themselves, let alone with other races. While on Earth Zara and David draw closer emotionally and physically and even though they both know that their life paths and previous loyalties will eventually tear them apart, they can't help feeling that fate has stepped in and brought them together to fall in love for a reason.
STAR DUST by Ann O'Bannon is a refreshing and breathtaking trip into a possible future for Earth. Zara and David are wonderful lead characters that overcome impossible odds to find a love that transcends space and a vast distance. The details and descriptions in the book were so life-like and real that I felt like I was in space with Zara and David and was experiencing the story first hand and when I turned the last page and sat the book down, I had to stop and wonder how and when I had returned to my chair in my living room. I was completely captivated by the drama in Zara and David's lives and my heart hurt for the two of them when the decisions they made, based on their beliefs and honor, threatened to tear them apart. Can Zara and David find a way they can be together and stay loyal to their respective planets and people? Can Earth unite as one world and accept the giant step forward into long distance space travel and trade with other worlds? The answers can be found in between the covers of this excellent introduction to the Shimuran world and once you read this story, you will be just like me; eagerly awaiting the next installment of this wonderful and fascinating new series. This may be Ann O'Bannon's debut novel, but with the introduction she has made to her Shimuran Legacy series, she has already proved that she is an author with exceptional talent.