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The Ballad of Beta-2 by Samuel R. Delany

The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965)

by Samuel R. Delany

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 3 of 3
Really seemed like a short story. Author could have explored the topic in more depth. ( )
  RFBrost | Nov 2, 2017 |
Here is the story of mankind's first, and unsuccessful, attempt to colonize another planet.

A dozen slow, multi-generation ships were sent to a distant star system called the Leffer System. Soon afterwards, mankind developed a star drive, so that by the time the ships reached their destination, mankind had been traveling around the galaxy for a hundred years. Of the dozen ships, two arrived empty, and two others never arrived at all. The ships were simply parked in orbit, and abandoned. Beta-2, one of the ships, even has its own ballad. Years later, as a college assignment, Joneny, a young researcher, is sent to find out just what happened.

Several of the supposedly indestructible ships show evidence of huge internal explosions. Some old audio recordings talk of being attacked by some sort of green humanoid that communicates by telepathy. Joneny meets the humanoid's half-human son, who is able to exist slightly outside of time, and live in hard vaccuum with no problem at all. He watches video from the other ships where the inhabitants have physically, and mentally, de-evolved to the level of an early human. "The Norm" is taken very seriously on the ships. If a person was found to be outside physical norms in any way, whether it's being too tall, or left-handed, or having the "wrong" eye color, they were immediately executed. By the end, Joneny understands just what The Ballad of Beta-2 is all about.

This is a short novel, but a very good one. It's an interesting story about how things on a multi-generation ship can go very wrong, and it's worth reading. ( )
1 vote plappen | Feb 18, 2009 |
This is a short novel featuring a couple of powerful ideas and some effective imagery, but not much in terms of characterization or story. A bored young graduate student is sent to investigate the scene of a curiously neglected space disaster, and finds out quite a bit more than he expected. Not one of Delany's best, but it does feature one of the author's typical "out there" characters, and certainly causes you to think about "the tyranny of mediocrity." It will only take you a couple of hours to read. ( )
2 vote clong | Dec 26, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Samuel R. Delanyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Freas, KellyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valigursky, EdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Quite simply, the answer is -- because they are there!"
On the desk was a pile of books. Books! Real books were Joneny's delight. Heavy, cumbersome, difficult to store, they were the bane of most scholars. Joneny found them entrancing. He didn't care what was in them. Any book today was so old that each word glittered to him like the facet of a lost gem. The whole conception of a book was so at odds with this compressed, crowded, breakneck era that he was put into ecstasy by the simple heft of the paper. His own collection, some seventy volumes, was considered a pretentious luxury by everyone at the University. The glory of the collection, each page impregnated with plastic, was the Manhattan Telephone Directory for 1975.
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This work was also published as part of Ace Double M-121, (Alpha Yes, Terra No! . The Ballad of Beta-2). That work should NOT be combined with this one!

Furthermore, an anthology, edited by Delaney, and containing work by Delaney, Bailey, Ellison, and others, appeared under the same title. That work, which is very rare, must be differentiated as well.
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