As astrophysicists have long known, stars are alive. Stars are born and they work, converting matter into energy. When their work is done, they die. Like their celestial constituents, constellations also live. Constellations love, they weep, they battle the seemingly infinite expanse of cosmic ennui in which they are enveloped. In this light-hearted novel, Boötes, who chases the great bear, Ursa Major, decides he has had enough. He abandons his sidereal post and with his Earthly traveling companion explores the heavenly realm, paying visits to many of the other constellations, listening to their laments while constructing for himself a path toward a new, more fulfilling destiny.
Boötes has been chasing the great bear, Ursa Major, around the pole for time out of mind and, truth be told, he long ago lost his enthusiasm for the task. His hunting hounds in Canes Venatici are existential drug addicts, who cannot be relied upon to provide additional encouragement to maintain the futile and ultimately demeaning pursuit. So Boötes calls the chase off, starting a sequence of events that throws all of the constellations in the heavens out of kilter. Aries the ram abandons his post in the House of Mars to serve as Boötes' steed as he roams the celestial panorama in search of a more fulfilling destiny.
Boötes is accompanied by his childhood friend, who has traveled from Earth to the heavens upon noticing that Boötes can no longer be seen in the night sky. Their relationship is deep and tested by time but not without the occasional, adversarial episodes. They are separated in the great oceans of deep space while attempting to elude the voracious pursuit of Draco, the dragon. Both Boötes and his Earthly companion pay visits to the constellations as they look for each other with ostensibly the intention of making sure that the other is safe.
These Stars Are All The Same was written from April to May, 1993, in the spring of the author's first year in graduate school at the University of Minnesota. It is a relatively early work and, while the same threads of an endless pursuit for meaning and purpose can be found woven through the narrative, one also hears a different, younger voice than that found in the later novels, a voice that has not abandoned a light-hearted wit.
These Stars Are All The Same contains all known fragments of A Catalogue of Lovers, which is the maternal counter-part to A Manual of Sons contained in the novel, The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme, published approximately eighteen years earlier in 1975.