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on July 31, 2016
This tale of science fiction takes our imaginations way beyond anything we people of Earth have ever conceived. Poul Anderson deserves all the accolades and prizes he has won for his mind knows no bounds as this unique story will prove. No matter how advanced our science has come today, in 2016, this visionary will remain as relevant as ever. I loved the insane speed implied throughout the journey through our universe.
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on August 5, 2014
As with any story, any number of criticism can be made. But, just as much, so can compliment. I have always enjoyed Poul's work. He is a wonderful storyteller. I am not as concerned with the intricacies of character development, as much as the meta-qualities of the cast. I care less about the likelihood of a technology, than I do about it's purpose and effect. Most of all, I care about the interplay between man, nature and spirit( or God, or whatever you call yours). I read these stories in much the same way as philosophy or religious texts; for the purpose of thought-provoking introspection or discussion.
Mr. Anderson has not let down. He has provided me with an entirely new twist on perception and possibility. Thank you for a fine piece of modern literature on which to ponder reality.
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on July 17, 2017
This was a phenomenal book. Good characters, several of them memorable, and an engaging plot with a few twists.

What I like most of all is the human aspect of things. This isn't just a "hard science" sci-fi book, it's a tale of survival. It does one little good to survive physically if mentally or emotionally you fall apart.
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on June 6, 2016
Distinctive in story, pacing and character. No classic sci fi is truly as scientific without letting go of the necessary social structure that girds our achievements and our humanity. Too bad he got it backwards. What about a sequel with a constantly accelerating universe, replete with dark matter and dark energy?
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on February 5, 2012
After having read several of the reviews for Tau Zero I have to say that in general I agree with a lot of what the people who gave the book a low rating are saying but I still think it deserves 4 stars for the following reasons:

I believe that the basic idea behind any sci-fi novel is to present a new or possible technology or other fundamental change in society and speculate on how humanity would deal with that change. In the case of Tau Zero humanity is reduced to about 50 persons and the change involves the universe, as we know it. The reason that the book focuses on human emotions (some reviewers went so far as to call it a soap opera) is because in the end, good sci-fi is not about the technology; it's about the people. And that's what this story is about. My biggest problem with the human drama is the way the crew falls apart so readily except for the one lone realist security guard who manages to hold it together while everyone else (including the captain falls apart). One would think that even in that time interstellar space travel would be fraught with hazard and that the people that went on such trips would be trained and screened to week out those likely to lose it. That being said there were several times that I found myself putting the book down to consider what I would do in such a situation and any book that prompts the reader to think about the larger consequences of what is happening in the story deserves a good rating. Is the book dated (and just a little sexist)? Yes. Is it still a good, thoughtful and entertaining read? Absolutely.
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on April 6, 2017
One can only hope to have the integrity and commitment that the main character holds throughout the book.
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on February 28, 2017
Never tire reading this science fiction classic. The nuanced discussion of tau and its relationship to space travel at near light speed has taken me several readings to begin to comprehend, but enjoyable each anytime and at any speed.
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on December 11, 2008
This is a quite good novel dealing with a hard science fiction situation and handling the characters' reactions to said situation. As summarized elsewhere, a crew sets out on a spaceship to another star and likely habitable planet. They need to reach a significant fraction of the speed of light to do so, and on the way they suffer an accident that prevents them from decelerating. Due to their speed, time moves faster in the universe than it does for them, and how they attempt to save the situation and cope with the psychological issues is well done. Anderson manages the unusual for me, in that I felt as though I were on the ship itself, and went through the ups and downs emotionally as the crew did. There are some poignant moments, exceptional writing, and awe inspiring imagery.

I also found some of the technology to be interesting in that it seems just as likely today as it did when the book was written: specifically the 'Dream Chambers' (or whatever they were called, I forget) which provide the viewer with alternate realities as psychotherapy/recreation.

That said, there are some minor problems that bring this down from a true classic to merely a 4 star work in my mind. The first is the 'digressions' where the author describes the science of speed, time and space to the reader. He chooses to tell this information at appropriate moments in the story, and does so as if he's lecturing the reader directly. This obviously breaks up the flow of the story. Due to the importance of the science, the fact that almost everyone on the ship would know this science and therefore be unlikely to have long conversations about the subject sufficient to be helpful to the reader, this solution may be the most effective possible. Alternatively he could have included a Foreward discussing this information, but the reader may not have done so, which could lead to confusion.

My second issue with the book is the focus on relationships. To me, a lot of this seemed forced and felt as though the author was trying to say something important about relationships in general, or at least in the future, and didn't quite impart this information to the reader. That said, most of the relationships felt 'real' enough.

My final real issue was the ending. I actually wished it would have ended a couple of chapters previously with a more ambiguous outcome than the almost Hollywood style ending that it ended up with. The explanation for how it finished was much less understandable to me than the science in the rest of the book.

Still, the good outweighed the bad in this novel, and I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in issues of time and space.
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on July 18, 2016
It's alright, don't know what else to say.
The author chose to focus more on the personal lives of a couple crew members and the drama of their relationships rather than the science or adventure of space travel. That choice is usually fine by me except the character development is lacking and I found it difficult to really care what happens to the main characters.
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on May 9, 2014
This is a book that deserves to be a classic in anyone's library. Although it is written, more or less, in the excitable style of a number of earlier era sci-fi, the book never gets to dramatic nor relies on a hocus pocus mixture of questionable science to make the plot work. The dialogue tends toward the poetic occasionally though pleasantly so for the most part. All in all the book ends up as a quite interesting read that tends to leave you pondering the nature of humanity for days afterwards. As such, a true master work of the genre. Enjoy!
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