I'm looking to identify a sci-fi book.

  • Its protagonists are spider-like aliens who call their world "a world that must be defended".
  • It's space-related sci-fi
  • Several species of aliens such as cat-like and bird-like
  • They use wormholes to move around vast distances and protect them with space stations
  • There are several types of spacecraft for battle
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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. When did you read this? Do you remember what the cover looked like?
    – DavidW
    Jan 21, 2022 at 1:22
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    Hello and welcome. Please check out the guidelines for asking a good Story Identification question at the answers to this question. I've edited the answer to make it easier to read, but more information will undoubtedly be needed to answer it. Jan 21, 2022 at 1:26
  • Partial match: A deepness in the sky, by Vernor Vinge. The protagonists are spider-like aliens. They do want to defend their world. Every alien race in the book is focused on the spiders' planet, which for some reason is incredibly important to everyone. But the spiders are actually the only race that does not have space travel.
    – Stef
    Jan 21, 2022 at 13:13
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    @Stef There ae no cat-like or bird-like aliens in A Deepness in the Sky. Indeed the Spiders are the only non-humans. The two competing space forces are different sets of humans. There is no wormhole travel, no FTL, and there is only one brief, albeit vital, space battle. Each spaceship is unique, there are no well-defined "classes" of ships. Jan 21, 2022 at 15:57
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/73774/…
    – Otis
    Jan 22, 2022 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


This sounds like In Death Ground (1997) and The Shiva Option (2002) by David Weber and Steve White, part of the Starfire series.

Cover of In Death Ground

See the Wikipedia article

In this story Humans who are allied with "Orions" (cat-like aliens) and several other species (including "Gorms", sort of troll-like, and Olphiuchi, roughly bird-like) encounter and fight against an insectile/arachnid species known as "Bugs". The bugs are implacable conquerors, who reduce conquered species to food animals. They also seem, at first, to have almost unlimited resources.

Several species not previously known to humans are encountered during the second book, and become allies of the humans against the Bugs. All humans are part of a single interstellar government.

There are multiple classes of warships and freighters, similar, in roles and names, to naval ships circa WWII. Ships go from one system to another using wormholes known as "warp points" that must be searched for. Most systems have only a small number of warp points, less than 10, some only 1 or 2. There are different numbered "types" of warp points. Some are detectable only from one end. Fortress space stations often defend wormholes, taking advantage of the disorientation felt by crew and computers on passage, and by the need for all ships to appear at a known location. Minefields accompany such fortresses. Fortresses are known as OWPs, and come in several numbered types.

Combat uses a combination of missiles and energy weapons. One type of energy weapons is known as "primary beams" in what seems to be a nod to the much earlier "Lensman" novels of E.E. "Doc" Smith.

Humans and their allies never succeed in communicating with the Bugs, but we get a few scenes from the Bug PoV, in which they refer to their most populous and developed star systems as "Systems that must be defended".

There are appearances by and references to characters who have been major characters in books set earlier in the series, and minor characters become more important in books set later.

All the items listed by the OP match except that the spider-like "bugs" are clearly antagonists, not protagonists

The "starfire" series grew out of backstory for a space fleet wargame that Weber had worked on.

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    Yes, the "world that must be defended" designation, with several alien races - of which there are cat-like (Orions), bird-like (Olphiuchi) and others basically nails it. I would just add that warp emergence disorients not only crew, but machines as well.
    – AcePL
    Jan 21, 2022 at 7:52
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    @AcePL I don't recall any effect on machines that I'd called "disorienting". What it does do is random variation in emergence location, per ship, so a whole fleet warping at once tends to end up with a few ships intersecting each other and exploding.
    – Douglas
    Jan 21, 2022 at 17:59

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