Starstormers 2: Sunburst by Nicholas Fisk

Volume 1 of the Starstormers saga ended with our heroes, Vawn, Ispex, Makenzi and Tsu, reunited with their parents on the colony of Epsilon Cool. Unwittingly they brought the evil Octopus Emperor – a being made entirely of a dust-like substance – along for the ride. Worse still, we learn that one of the Starstormers is a traitor, secretly in league with the Emperor in return for seeing their parents again.

Volume 2 begins with the Octopus Emperor enslaving the Starstormers and their parents and bringing them to his homeworld of dust. The youngsters manage to trick the Emperor and escape in their home-made spacecraft, but they must leave their parents behind. Wandering the stars, they come across a vast deserted starship. Curious, they dock and board, only to learn that the ship is heading straight for the sun. They panic. Why? Good question. Four children who were smart enough to build their own spaceship are apparently too dumb to realise that they can simply undock and fly away. When they finally do realise and attempt to take-off, they’re too dumb to uncouple the docking mechanism, and they assume the larger ship’s gravity is too strong. Oh, brother.

When the kids are finally on their way again, they head for the Octopus homeworld and make a stab at rescuing their parents. The title, Sunburst, is a reference to the encounter with the ghost ship, but this is really only a mini-adventure of 40 pages occupying the centre of this 120-page book. The rest of the volume is concerned with the Octopus Emperor.

The general gist of what I’m saying would lead you to believe I hated this book. Actually, I quite enjoyed it, and read it in a couple of days. Elements of the plot are poorly thought out, some of the writing is sloppy; Nicholas Fisk may well have written the Starstormers saga purely as a money-spinner. Normally I crucify a book like this. Instead, I find I want to chase up the remaining three volumes. The adventure, as a whole, is a fairly decent pulp space opera for kids. I’m into nostalgia in a big way at the moment, and reading Starstormers gives me the same feeling I got reading the likes of the Eagle comic as a kid. Bite-sized throwaway stories; such things have their place.

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4 thoughts on “Starstormers 2: Sunburst by Nicholas Fisk

  1. Drew says:


    Good to see ‘something’ (anything!) about StarStormers on the ‘net. I remember getting these to ‘encourage’ my reading when I was about 10 or so back in the really early 80s. I remember the first two books and the 4th. I think I got the 5th one out of the library much later to find out what happened at the end. Never read book 3:Catspaw though. Will be interested to see what you make of it.

    I remember enjoying them, though thinking that bits of the plot didn’t make sense (kids, building a ship, gravity on the sun ship etc).

    As I recall, Tsu was my favourite character though. I think I had a crush on her… 🙂

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    You mean Catfang. 🙂 I’m currently trying to collect all five. They show up so rarely on eBay. I have 1, 2 and 5. But I’ll save reading 5 until I’ve got the missing ones.

  3. Drew says:

    I’ve managed to acquire 1-4 so far, still haven’t found a copy of 5 (Volcano – I believe). I enjoyed 4 a lot (Evil Eye). It’s a mini-adventure within the whole story, and is nicely self contained and better written than 2 and 3. It also appears to be setting up a final confrontation with the evil Octopus Emperor as the Starstormers manage to recruit some allies along the way…



  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    I’ve now got everything except Catfang. I keep checking eBay. I’m sure it will crop up someday. Somebody was recently selling a copy but it was part of a bulk lot of books for £20. I want to read it, but not that much. 🙂

    Volcano showed up on eBay less than a month ago. I don’t think it sold, so it will probably be relisted at some point. You can set up a saved search for a phrase like “fisk volcano” and eBay will notify you of any hits.

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