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Tau Zero (SF Masterworks) by Poul Anderson
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Tau Zero (SF Masterworks) (original 1970; edition 2006)

by Poul Anderson (Author)

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1,096387,626 (3.64)62
Member:ed.pendragon
Title:Tau Zero (SF Masterworks)
Authors:Poul Anderson (Author)
Info:Gollancz (2006), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:speculative

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Tau Zero by Poul Anderson (1970)

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» See also 62 mentions

English (34)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  English (38)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
This is my first Poul Anderson book. My expectations might have been too high as I found it to be rather disappointing. The concept is pretty cool but the character development is lacking and portions of the dialogue were very poorly executed. I did feel that Anderson managed a great job of thinking through the hard science aspects of his story. It's a shame that that was the most interesting part of the book as there were several lengthy explanations of things like time-dilation, ship acceleration, the titular 'Tau' factor, etc, that made my eyes absolutely glaze over at times. ( )
  ScoLgo | Aug 31, 2016 |
Amazingly creative 'hard' science fiction. A spaceship experiences mechanical difficulties with its breaking mechanism and is forced to use relativistic effects of time to accelerate and brake at a new world. I don't know anywhere near enough physics to evaluate those aspects of the story but I thoroughly enjoyed this classic of science fiction. ( )
  kale.dyer | Aug 1, 2016 |
Off into the wild open space of the unknown to look for a possibly habitable planet. Part "hard" sci-fi, part space opera, but mostly hard sci-fi – the book is a bit too hard for me to give it three stars. However, because the humanity shines through I'll cave. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Tau zero

Poul Anderson is a writer's writer, David Brin, Vernor Vinge and others swear by him and Vinge even dedicated his epic [b:A Deepness in the Sky|226004|A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought #2)|Vernor Vinge|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1217218691s/226004.jpg|1270006] to him. His influence on their work is fairly obvious, Anderson knew his science and was able to employ that knowledge to max effect in his fiction. He was also a natural story teller who never neglected the human element in his sf stories.

Tau Zero is - I believe - what veteran sf readers would call "diamond hard sf" where all the fictional science is completely plausible. So no teleportation, snarky robots, or little green men. I have to admit a lot of the "interstellar astronautics theory" and other scientific details went whoosh! right over my head, yet somehow Anderson always ensured that the story is never incomprehensible. I also learned a lot about time dilation and relativity that I never knew before, which will undoubtedly make me the life of the next party I go to.

The characters are fairly interesting people, led by a protagonist who is a "pragmatism personified" super stoic constable, but at least he is very articulate, not one of those cliche taciturn hero type. In any case, given the short length of the novel (190 pages) there is not all that much room to develop the characters, a lot of them seem to be defined by their personal quirks.

For some reason this book reminds me of David Bowie's "Space Oddity", not in specifics, as the story follows an entire starship crew not just one Major Tom. However, there is a sense of that "Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do" sort of loneliness and hopelessness among the crew through out most of the novel. Even before the starship went out of control the crew never had any hope of returning home to the people they know due to the time dilation effect. After things go "pear-shaped" the damned thing can no longer decelerate let alone stop, heading to goodness knows where. The final destination turned out to be truly awesome.

A lot of people who ask for sf book recommendations (in Reddit especially) tend to stipulate that they don't want anything pre-70s, or even pre-80s due to the misconception that old sf books are "outdated". Their prerogative of course but it is a shame that they will miss out on older gems like this one.

Now go take your protein pills and put your helmet on. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
"Excellente science-fiction, très ""hard science"" malgré le hui clos on ne s'ennuie pas.
A lire absolument, la postface scientifique faisant le lien entre ce qui est avancé par Poul Anderson et la réalité scientifique." ( )
  rouzejp | Sep 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Poul Andersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walotsky, RonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575070994, Paperback)

The epic voyage of the spacecraft Leonora Christine will take her and her fifty-strong crew to a planet some thrity light-years distant. But, because the ship will accelerate to close to the spped of light, for those on board subjective time will slow and the journey will be of only a few years' duration. Then a buffeting by an interstellar dustcloud changes everything. The ship's deceleration system is damaged irreperably and soon she is gaining velocity. When she attains light-speed, tau zero itself, the disparity between ship-time and external time becomes almost impossibly great. Eons and galaxies hurtle by, and the crew of the Leonora Christine speeds into the unknown.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Fifty men and women set out in the twenty-third century from Earth aboard an interstellar craft to travel to a planet some thirty light-years away. The ship will approach the speed of light and so (as Einstein predicted) subjective time on board will slow and so the journey of several decades will be of much shorter duration for the crew. But the ship's deceleration system is irreparably damaged when it hits a cloud of interstellar dust and acceleration continues toward light speed, tau zero. Soon the ship is speeding through galaxies and eons are passing on board the ship in the blink of an eye.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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