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I read a novel or short story in the '70s about stars being harnessed for energy and it turns out that the stars are living things which are dying from the practice.

The stars were introduced in human form after the energy was tapped by a spacecraft sending a probe into a star, if I recall correctly.

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  • "Star maker" by Stapledon had people tapping energy from stars. But rather than just dying, the stars committed suicide by going nova when they felt the interference. Jan 2, 2023 at 20:22

2 Answers 2

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It sounds like it could possibly be:

Whipping Star (1970, first of the ConSentiency universe, a series by Frank Herbert).

As the novel opens, it is revealed that Calebans, who are beings visible to other sentient species as stars, have been disappearing one by one. Each disappearance is accompanied by millions of sentient deaths and instances of incurable insanity.

90 years prior [...] Calebans appeared and offered jumpdoors to the collective species, allowing sentients to travel instantly to any point in the universe. Gratefully accepting, the sentiency didn't question the consequences. Now Mliss Abnethe, a psychotic human female with immense power and wealth, has bound a Caleban (called Fannie Mae) in a contract that allows the Caleban to be whipped to death; when the Caleban dies, everyone who has ever used a jumpdoor (which is almost every adult in the sentient world and many of the young) will die as well.

The Calebans begin to disappear one at a time, leaving our plane of existence (or exiting "our wave") to save themselves. As all Calebans are connected, if all were to remain in our existence, when Fannie Mae died, all Calebans would die. As each Caleban exits, millions of the ConSentiency are killed or rendered insane.

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  • This is a weird synopsis. I'm going to hunt this one down.
    – T. Sar
    Jan 3, 2023 at 16:10
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    Ages since I read it. The one which has stuck with me is the second one in the series The Dosadi Experiment, simple story but gripping. @T.Sar Jan 3, 2023 at 16:29
  • One can always bet on Herbert to create the weirdest sci-fi universes. I wasn't aware of this series. This is a treasure throve that you opened me. Thank you so much!
    – T. Sar
    Jan 3, 2023 at 16:39
  • OK. I'm sure you'll return the favour at some point :) @T.Sar Jan 3, 2023 at 16:40
  • Will do it rigth now. This is also a treasure of a book, if a bit hard to find in English.
    – T. Sar
    Jan 3, 2023 at 16:43
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sounds like it might have been Sundiver, by David Brin. From the Wikipedia page:

There are "ghosts" appearing in the Sun's chromosphere. There are apparently three forms: the "toroids" which appear to be similar to cattle and live off of the magnetic fields in the chromosphere, a relatively fluid, apparently intelligent variety, and a threatening, strangely anthropomorphic figure that avoids the side of the sunship where the instruments are located.

The plot summary doesn't mention the "stars for energy" part, so it's not a perfect match. I thought it was worth a try though as I know my memory of what I read 40 years ago is a little imperfect. :-)

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    Hi, welcome to SciFi.SE! Could you edit in some details from Sundiver that match what the OP is looking for?
    – fez
    Jan 3, 2023 at 11:06
  • Thanks @fez - hopefully I've done that now. Now I re-read it it's not a perfect match - I can delete the answer if that's preferred here?
    – PaulW
    Jan 3, 2023 at 11:20
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    It's up to you if you want to leave or delete your answer, but good-faith answers that turn out not to be matches are normally not penalised. (Especially not for story-id questions.)
    – DavidW
    Jan 3, 2023 at 11:42
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    You're not the only one with doubts about their answer, mine seems to not-quite-fit either. :) Jan 3, 2023 at 16:39

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