- Series: Gollancz SF Collector's Edition
- Paperback: 190 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0575070994
- ISBN-13: 978-0575070998
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 133 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,308,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tau Zero (SF Collector's Edition) (Gollancz SF Collector's Edition) Paperback – 2000
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About the Author
Poul Anderson was born in 1926 in Pennsylvania and educated at the University of Minnesota where he gained a degree in physics in 1948. Among his many fine novels are Brain Wave, The Avatar, War of the Wing-Men and The Boat of a Million Years.
Top customer reviews
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Fifty very bright and capable experts in their fields set off from Earth to colonize another world. The basis of their propulsion is that the ship gathers hydrogen along the way, burning it, and gaining speed. Disaster strikes and the ship's ability to decrease speed is ruined and they continue to gain speed, passing their destination and catapult through the universe.
As hundreds of billions of years pass outside it's only a matter of years inside. At no point in this alleged masterwork do I form any sort of bond with the people aboard. The bond that I did form was for a people who know that their own civilization, their own solar system, is long ended, and they are in complete isolation on this ship.
Then there's the science. It's considered hard science fiction and much of the science in this book has been completely debunked.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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