Story about a sentient star system, possibly in f&sf anthology from 50s or early 60s. I know this is a long shot, but I hope someone will know of this story.

I believe it was called "Darkness or into the darkness". End of the story had it spinning off a galaxy, (possibly ours?).

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    Please add more information, anything else you can remember. Did humans interact with the system? Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 15:14
  • Whenever you have new information to add to a question, please edit it into your original question, instead of (or in addition to) just leaving a comment.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 2:31

3 Answers 3


"Into the Darkness", a novelette by Ross Rocklynne, also the answer to this old question; first published in Astonishing Stories, June 1940, available at the Internet Archive. Does any of these covers ring a bell? As far as the ISFDB knows, the earliest reprint you could have read was in the 1969 paperback anthology Futures Unlimited edited by Alden Norton.

"Into the Darkness" was the first story in Rocklynne's Darkness series, which was collected under the title The Sun Destroyers as half of an Ace Double Novel. The other stories in the series are also available at the Internet Archive: "Daughter of Darkness", "Abyss of Darkness", and "Rebel of the Darkness" aka "Revolt of the Devil Star".

The main character (called Darkness) of "Into the Darkness" is not a star system but an immense space-dwelling energy being:

Out in space, on the lip of the farthest galaxy, and betwixt two star clusters, there came into being a luminiferous globe that radiated for light-years around. A life had been born!

It became aware of light; one of its visions had become activated. First it saw the innumerable suns and nebulae whose radiated energy now fed it. Beyond that it saw a dense, impenetrable darkness.

The darkness intrigued it. It could understand the stars, but the darkness it could not. The babe probed outward several light-years and met only lightlessness. It probed further, and further, but there was no light. Only after its visions could not delve deeper did it give up, but a strange seed had been sown; that there was light on the far edge of the darkness became its innate conviction.

Wonders never seemed to cease parading themselves before this newly born. It became aware of another personality hovering near, an energy creature thirty millions of miles across. At its core hung a globe of subtly glowing green light one million miles in diameter.

He explored this being with his vision, and it remained still during his inspection. He felt strange forces plucking at him, forces that filled him to overflowing with peacefulness. At once, he discovered a system of energy waves having marvelous possibilities.

"Who are you?" these waves were able to inquire of that other life.

Softly soothing, he received answer.

"I am your mother."

"You mean—?"

"You are my son—my creation. I shall call you—Darkness. Lie here and grow, Darkness, and when you are many times larger, I will come again."

At story's end Darkness makes a planet, possibly ours:

He concentrated on the sudden thought that struck him. He was dying, of that he was well aware, but he was dying without doing anything. What had he actually done, in this life of his?

"But what can I do? I am alone," he thought vaguely. Then, "I could make a planet, and I could put the life germ on it. Oldster taught me that."

Suddenly he has afraid he would die before he created this planet. He set his mind to it, and began to strip from the sphere of tight matter vast quantities of energy, then condensed it to form matter more attenuated. With lagging power, he formed mass after mass of matter, ranging all through the ninety-eight elements that he knew.

Fifty thousand years saw the planet's first stage of completion. It had become a tiny sphere some fifteen thousand miles in diameter. With a heat ray he then boiled it, and with another ray cooled its crust, at the same time forming oceans and continents on its surface. Both water and land, he knew, were necessary to life which was bound by nature of its construction to the surface of a planet.

Then came the final, completing touch. No other being had ever deliberately done what Darkness did then. Carefully, he created an infinitesimal splash of life-perpetuating protoplasm; he dropped it aimlessly into a tiny wrinkle on the planet's surface.

He looked at the finished work, the most perfect planet he or his playmates had ever created, with satisfaction, notwithstanding the dull pain of weariness that throbbed through the complex energy fields of his body.

Then he took the planet up in a tractor ray, and swung it around and around, as he now so vividly recalled doing in his childhood. He gave it a swift angular velocity, and then shot it off at a tangent, in a direction along the line of which he was reasonably sure lay his own universe. He watched it with dulling visions. It receded into the darkness that would surround it for ages, and then it was a pinpoint, and then nothing.

"It is gone," he said, somehow wretchedly lonely because of that, "but it will reach the universe; perhaps for millions of years it will traverse the galaxies unmolested. Then a sun will reach out and claim it. There will be life upon it, life that will grow until it is intelligent, and will say it has a soul, and purpose in existing."

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    User14111, you hit a home run!!!! Thank you very much!! How can I thank you for these answers? I had thought that all this was lost to me forever!
    – M82mike
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 3:16
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    @M82mike I enjoy solving these questions, so you can thank me by posting more questions that I can answer! Please make them easier by posting everything you can recall about the story in your question.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 3:18

More detail would be helpful to answer this question. I am sure that the following do not exhaust the possibilities.

One answer might be Frank Herbert's novel Whipping Star, in which the mysterious intelligence that aids humanity by providing gates from one place to another turns out to be a sentient star.

Another is Olaf Stapledon's novel Star Maker, in which all stars are sentient until they become dead husks.

A third might be Cordwainer Smith's novelette Under Old Earth, in which the sentient Douglas-Ouyang Planets contact a man on Earth and make him into a religious cult figure reenacting the life of Akhenaten.

Do any of these sound familiar?

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    I'm familiar with whipping star, the others don't sound quite right. I believe it was called "Darkness or into the darkness". End of the story had it spinning off a galaxy, (possibly ours?). I will look for Star maker, but doesn't sound quite right.
    – M82mike
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 17:56
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    Sentient stars also appear in the Starchild Trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson.
    – KenM
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 18:40
  • In Star Maker, when a group of stars is moved by planet-dwellers to cross the great distance to another galaxy, the stars don't understand what is happening to them, and are so upset that they go nova to prevent further interference with their ordinary movements. A rash of novas results throughout the galaxy, until the stars are telepathically contacted. They prove to be of a normally angelic character. Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 0:58
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    @M82mike There was practically nothing to go on in your original question. My answer "Into the Darkness" by Ross Rocklynne is based on your comment here.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 2:11
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    User14111, you nailed it! Just ordered a copy from thriftbook!
    – M82mike
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 3:27

It might be "The World at the End of Time" by Frederik Pohl.

It has multiple sentient stars, most of which were created as clones of one original sentient star. There are scenes where the original star communicates with the clones, and at least one where the original star explains to a clone where it came from.

It follows the story of the original star fighting against the clones - there's a sort of war going on, since one of the clones started killing other stars. Since none of the stars knows who was the first killer, it degenerates into an all against all battle with the individual stars destroying any star suspected of sentience.

This battle causes problems for human colonists who had set out to colonise a planet around a far star. The original star makes use of the planet's star, accelerating it to very close to light speed.

The star battle goes on for a very long time. Eventually, only the very first star is left.

At the end of the story, the accelerated star system slows down. The universe is running down, and because of relativistic effects, the now decellerated star is the only star left burning - the sentience of the original star sets off to inhabit this one last star.

There are still humans living on the planet around that star. It is implied that the sentience will have trouble when it encounters the humans - it thinks it will be able to simply take posession, but the travel time will be so long that humans will have evolved in to something more powerful by the time it arrives.

The novel is from 1990, but Pohl began publishing in like 1937. The style could easily be taken for a book from the 1960s or 1970s.

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