Verdict: PANTHER ACROSS THE STARS is an intriguing historical might-have-been, capturing a critical moment in American history and offering new possibilities.
Native American leader Tecumseh struggles to keep his people from being overwhelmed by the new nation of America – but shipwrecked aliens might hold the key he needs.
Tecumseh, leader of his branch of the Shawnee people, has had a burning rage and hatred for white people in his heart since witnessing his father’s brutal murder at their hands as a young man. His friendship with the gentle John Sackett and his family help him counter this hatred, but it still festers, as his people’s way of life and very existence is threatened by American armies. When his people find and help three shipwrecked aliens, he finds in their strange powers an opportunity to turn the course of the war around – but will it be enough to save the Shawnee as a free people?
PANTHER ACROSS THE STARS offers an interesting alternative history, a premise that provides the possibility of a less devastating result from the American conquest and attempted genocide of the Native peoples. Tecumseh’s struggle is presented both internally and externally, and the anguish and rage that he feels are totally justifiable given what happens to him and to people he loves. The heartbreak of his desperate situation is palpable, and well-presented here, as are the factional and emotional conflicts among the threatened Shawnee. It’s interesting that the culture clash between the Natives and the white invaders is far sharper than that between the Natives and the aliens.
It is completely believeable that the Natives would fail to understand the motivations and the potential for cruelty and destructiveness that the white Americans showed, and that the whites should so misunderstand them as to dismiss them as mere savages – all that is a matter of historical record. It is not quite as reasonable that people from totally different planets and evolutionary/cultural backgrounds should immediately totally understand each other and be able to relate as brothers, even with some touch telepathy involved (the idea that telepathy should work readily and easily between two brains evolved on different planets is in itself rather dubious). The story loses some of its force, as well, to its rather unsubtle focus on hammering home its moral point, as well as the characters’ tendency to speak almost entirely in high rhetorical phrases, even in ordinary conversations, as if they were continually speechmaking rather than simply talking.
PANTHER ACROSS THE STARS is an intriguing historical might-have-been, capturing a critical moment in American history and offering new possibilities.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader