Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

January Books 15) Tau Zero

15) Tau Zero, by Poul Anderson (.co.uk, .com)

Another of my reading resolutions, one of those sf classics I had never got around to. The fifty-strong crew of a colonisation starship hit a technical problem - they can't shut the drive off, so the ship will keep accelerating towards lightspeed, where the relativistic factor τ approaches zero (hence the title). Although this is billed as one of the hardest of sf books, I suppose because of the importance of the Bussard ramjets to the plot, I found the treatment of the relationships between the crew members very sympathetic and believable, and indeed it's really a story about them than about the technology (which to me moves it off the hard end of the sf spectrum). It's certainly way better than the Heinlein/Robinson Variable Star, which at one point features a similar situation.

Although the crew leave Earth at the very beginning of the book, there too Anderson has designed an interesting background, a post-nuclear war world in which the rest of humanity has agreed to put Sweden in charge (I think he refers also to this setting in There Will Be Time). So the leading members of the crew are Scandinavian and occasionally mutter in Swedish to each other. I would be interested to know if any of the Swedes on my f-list (I know there are at least two of you) has read it, and if you felt Anderson had got it right.

Top UnSuggestion for this book: The Devil Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger.
Tags: bookblog 2007, reading resolutions 2007, writer: poul anderson
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