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I read this book some years ago. It was probably a paperback book in the library. It is not Starship troopers or the Ender series or the "Sand ??" series that CoPilot suggested that appears to be the only one with both portals and hostile insectoids that CoPilot knows about.

this book used portals/wormholes for FTL travel. Portals could not be created only discovered. They were stable and permanent. There was only one portal from/to our solar system. It went to Alpha Centauri. The Centauri system had multiple portals to different star systems.

Book also had relentlessly hostile insect race. This race seemed to have a Borg-like hive mind. (there is no allusion to Borg in the novel.) They were instantly hostile to any sentient race they encountered. The book would have occasional paragraphs of how the insect race thought. They always referred to their opponents as some kind of enemy. The "Bugs" had 5 "worlds that must be defended" that were home bases. There the bugs bred and built ships, weapons etc.

Opposing the bugs was an alliance of species including humans. Some of these races appeared to have been at war with humans in earlier books of the series before the bugs forced them to unite against them.

One of the things human ships did was explore any system that could be reached by a portal for additional portals. These unoccupied systems may not have had any planets or at least any habitable ones. One ship was exploring a system that was 9 jumps away from the "nearest" (of jumps not actual distance) alliance system. They found another portal and jumped. This 10th jump brought them to one of bugs home bases. The portal was also a rare one-way portal. One way visibility not one-way travel. The bugs would not be able to find the portal unless they observed someone using it.

The alliance scout observed the situation carefully then started back to alliance system. Unfortunately for them the bugs had discovered the 5th system in the chain and they were almost destroyed. Somehow they escaped and made it back to an alliance system. Eventually a fleet of alliance ships retraced the route and used some planet-killing weapon to destroy the bugs on the home world. (perhaps by burning the atmosphere). The shock of losing so many bugs paralyzed the surviving defenses and ships allowing the alliance to destroy most of the planetary defenses. When a fleet of bugs arrived from another system, they were not affected by the carnage and the alliance ships jumped back toward home.

Another plot thread. A female officer is given the rank of admiral and the command of a large starship and sets off to explore another empty system. While there a fleet of bug ships attacks and the admiral's ship is fleeing the bugs but getting and getting further from the only portal they know that they could use to get back to base. Before they left an alliance world that had been occupied by bugs was being reconquered by the alliance. Rumors of inhabitants being captured, farmed and eaten were floating around.

We are then introduced to a pair of species not known to the alliance or the reader. Their ship(s) are cloaked. The bugs know these species however and refer to them as the "ancient enemy" The pair of species are an avian species (the only known one in this universe) and a furred species that look to humans remarkably similar to teddy bears. The Birds and Bears aware of the bugs ships and an unknown ship. They decide to risk an attack on the bug ships. The admiral turns around and attacks the bugs as well. Most of the bug ships are destroyed and the rest flee.

The admiral gets to introduce herself to the commanding bird and bear. The admiral's ship cannot return to base (perhaps damaged) but does go with the new potential allies to their base. Apparently the bird/bear alliance had inferior technology to bugs and humans and had only survived by withdrawing to safe territory and heavily defending any portals known to the bugs.

In the end, all of the bugs home bases are destroyed. However a few bugs withdraw to "the world that must be concealed" to try and rebuild.

a subsequent book in the series only concerns humans. There is a civil war between earth government and outlying worlds. All other races stay out of the fight.

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    I changed your title to be more descriptive. "Name of author and title of book" isn't a good title, just as it wouldn't be a good Google search either. (Here is a tip: if you cannot think of a good title, just use ChatGPT to pick one for you)
    – Andres F.
    May 13 at 22:06

2 Answers 2

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Earth having a single warp point that connects to Alpha Centauri which has a bunch (8) is a feature of Steve White and David Weber's "Starfire" series; the bug fight happens in book 3 In Death Ground.

In addition to being an economic powerhouse, Alpha Centauri possessed no less than eight warp points—one of which connected with Sol's solitary one. This system had been humanity's gateway to the galaxy, and from the security standpoint its location deep in the heart of the Federation was unbeatable. Where could the Grand Alliance's top brass be any safer than here?

The Bugs don't seem to have a fully unitary species hive mind, but each autonomous segment has a unitary mind. The segment that is decoying the Second Fleet into an ambush thinks of itself as "the Fleet:"

The Fleet had been concerned by the possibility that the enemy would, despite everything, overtake it before it could transit, for that would have prevented it from performing that which had been its function from the first: to show the enemy this warp point which he himself wanted so badly to be shown.

Warp points are wormhole-like connections between star systems, so all have two ends, but while most are detectable, some have an end that is not visible to searchers in that system; these are respectively called "open" and "closed" warp points:

But that comfortable assumption had just become inoperable. "Closed" warp points were far less common than "open" ones—or, at least, astrographers had traditionally assumed they were. It was hard to be positive, since the only way to locate a closed point was to come through it from an open one at the far end of the link, and the latest models suggested closed points might in fact occur much more frequently than previously assumed. Indeed, the more recent math predicted that the conditions which created such warp points in the first place would tend to put closed points at both ends of a link.

The story starts when an Terran Federation exploration ship finds a closed warp point into an unoccupied system in Bug space. The Bugs leave cloaked ships watching every system, and when the exploration ships move on to the next system the Bugs smash the Terran ship and its escorts, and draw in supporting units and kill them too. This kicks off the war.

The major thread follows an attack by the TF Second Fleet through a series of systems ("Anderson One" through "Anderson Five") toward an inhabited Bug world denoted "Pesthouse." Unfortunately the Bugs are expecting the attack and decoy the fleet deep into their space and attack it from all sides. The Bugs' goal is to weaken the Terran Fleet sufficiently that the Bugs can attack Centauri directly through a closed warp point from Anderson One.

The Bugs are mostly successful at this, though frequently their tactics are of the Zerg Rush style, but with the arrival of Orion reinforcements, the alliance manages to hold Centauri.

The story also matches the detail that the Orions were previously enemies, having fought the Human worlds in the previous novel Crusade.

It is discovered early that the inhabitants of captured worlds are eaten:

Eight thousand. Eight thousand one hundred and three. That was it—the total cound of survivors on the planet Justin. Eight thousand brutally traumatized, filthy, terrified, human-shaped animals who'd been herded into holding pens and watched hopelessly as all the others who'd been herded in with them were marched away and eaten.

The only part I can't confirm are the unknown species. There is a known avian species, the Ophiuchi, who are part of the Terran Federation and some of the best fighter pilots, and the Orion are intelligent felinoids, but I can't find any mention of ursinoids.

The book Insurrection concerns a human civil war (Fringe Worlds versus Inner Worlds) but it's listed as the first book in the series.

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    Argh, beat me to it
    – Shawn
    May 13 at 22:03
  • I don't recall the chronology (I have the sneaking suspicion Insurrection is a "prequel"), but by every other measure, IDG is book two, not three.
    – Matthew
    May 14 at 17:07
  • @Matthew I haven't found an internal chronology, but at least by publication order it's the third book. (Or at least so sayeth both ISFDb and Goodreads.)
    – DavidW
    May 14 at 18:20
  • Okay, after some poking around, I'm pretty sure Insurrection is the fourth chronologically (that is, in-universe chronology), as they have Monitors, which were created during the Bug War. That's also the order in which the two omnibuses present the stories. So, okay, there's an argument for IDG being second, but yes, by publication order it's third. 🤷 (And I guess my recollection was backwards; possibly I was remembering that Insurrection was actually published first...)
    – Matthew
    May 14 at 19:57
  • I'm almost certain the "ursinoids" the OP is recalling are the Koala-like Telikans. I wouldn't describe them as exactly like "teddy bears", but they're close enough. Also, the "ancient enemy" is the Star Union, so the OP is definitely thinking of the Crucians, not the Ophiuchi. (Note also the OPs first-contact references.)
    – Matthew
    May 14 at 21:15
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I'm going to duplicate-post because DavidW's answer doesn't give much in the way of details. (Bold text is quotes from the Question. Quotes are from the book(s).)

Note: a lot of the information you gave is from The Shiva Option, which is the sequel to In Death Ground. It's hard to be certain if you read both or just The Shiva Option, but it seems you also read (at least part of) Insurrection.

[...] portals/wormholes for FTL travel [...] stable and permanent [...] relentlessly hostile insect race [...] hive mind [...] instantly hostile to any sentient race [...] occasional paragraphs of how the insect race thought [...]

Thus far, my first thought was John Ringo's "Voyage of the Space Bubble" series, which starts with Through the Looking Glass.

There was only one portal from/to our solar system. It went to Alpha Centauri. The Centauri system had multiple portals to different star systems.

Okay, not the Looking Glass series, then. (Although that's still worth a read!) Wasn't sure until...

The "Bugs" had 5 "worlds that must be defended"

Right. Dead give-away that we're talking about the Starfire series. Yes, it's apparently based on a board game. Note that the primary author seems to be Steve White, not David Weber. Weber collaborated on some of the books, but White is listed on all eight.

Clearly, losses were inevitable, despite all that the planetary defense centers might hope to achieve. Losses which must be considered very serious.

Unacceptable losses, in fact. For these were Worlds Which Must Be Defended. (TSO ch3)

Some of these races appeared to have been at war with humans in earlier books of the series.

If I recall correctly, this isn't technically the case; humans and Orions did previously fight several wars, but this particular action happened prior to the first (by in-universe chronology) book, Crusade, which featured the Thebans as adversaries. (The Thebans are more-or-less not heard from again after the first book.)

rare one-way portal

Some so-called "closed" warp points are only easily detected from one end. IIRC lore hypothesizes that warp points not detectable from either end may be possible, but the chances of finding such are (ahem) astronomical.

Eventually a fleet of alliance ships retraced the route and used some planet-killing weapon to destroy the bugs on the home world. (perhaps by burning the atmosphere). The shock of losing so many bugs paralyzed the surviving defenses and ships allowing the alliance to destroy most of the planetary defenses. When a fleet of bugs arrived from another system, they were not affected by the carnage and the alliance ships jumped back toward home.

Close. The first attack — see TSO ch3 — is simply brute force, but it's when the alliance discovers the effect you note:

"We've been assuming the Bugs are telepathic merely because that was the only way to account for their apparent lack of any other kind of communication. It's just been a working hypothesis. Now I think we've just proved it. [...] Our fighter strike just killed God knows how many of them in the space of a few minutes. Every Bug on the planet—maybe in the entire system—must all be in some form of continuous telepathic linkage. The sudden deaths of that many of them disoriented the rest—sent them into a kind of psychic shock." (TSO ch3)

It was hard—so hard—in their stunned disorientation. But the intelligences that controlled the Fleet knew they must avoid battle until they could function at something like their normal level. Nothing like it had ever happened before. Never had a World Which Must Be Defended been seared clean in such a manner. So there had been no way to foresee its effects. (TSO ch3)

Later (TSO ch32), one of the home hives is attacked by lobbing asteroids / small planetoids at it using Orion drives, which is probably what you're recalling as a "planet-killing weapon".

A female officer is given the rank of admiral and the command of a large starship and sets off to explore another empty system. We are then introduced to a pair of species not known to the alliance or the reader. Their ship(s) are cloaked. The bugs know these species however and refer to them as the "ancient enemy". The pair of species are an avian species (the only known one in this universe) and a furred species that look to humans remarkably similar to teddy bears. The admiral gets to introduce herself to the commanding bird and bear.

Almost spot-on, but you might be confusing Telikans with Hokas (different series, different author(s)). 🙂

Reymiirnagar's blue giant primary had a red dwarf companion, one of whose barren moons held a hostile-environment settlement of Telikans. Their koala-bear-like forms (albeit with arms of gorilla length) had brought home to Sommers that she was dealing with a multispecies polity. (TSO ch7)

I won't quote at length, but chunks of the above are from the prologue to The Shiva Option.

The admiral's ship cannot return to base (perhaps damaged) but does go with the new potential allies to their base. Apparently the bird/bear alliance had inferior technology to bugs and humans and had only survived by withdrawing to safe territory and heavily defending any portals known to the bugs.

They're cut off because they have to go through Bug-held systems to get back, and lack the firepower to force their way through. They do share technology with the Star Union (known to the Bugs as "the Old Enemy").

The elusive survey flotilla had survived after all. There was no other explanation for the fact that these other Enemies—rediscovered after their seeming vanishment so long ago—now had the small attack craft that had given the Fleet so much trouble, and which their own technological base could not have produced unaided. [...] Now the Old Enemies had access to the technology of the new ones.

A subsequent book in the series only concerns humans. There is a civil war between earth government and outlying worlds.

Right; this is Insurrection. Note that Insurrection was published first, but is fourth in the in-universe chronology.

I didn't cover every single detail you gave, but the others match my memory also. You did an amazing job remembering details!

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