Monday, October 17, 2011

Poul Anderson's "To Outlive Eternity" (novella, space opera, free): When a journey in space turned to one beyond the end of time!

This is the original story that was later expanded into author's well known novel, "Tau Zero". "Tau", also appearing in the story, is a parameter from relativity that in some way captures time dilation.

Note many reviewers describe this story as "hard sf". I don't know enough physics to conclude that; some of its physics is obviously cooked up. To me it sounded like space opera, but without guns & aliens.

Story is not always an easy read. Particularly early parts include infodumps that were just meaningless babble for me. But I'm no physicist.

Story summary.

Leonora Christine, a human colonizing ship with 50 men & women aboard, encounters a "small" nebula on its way & cannot avoid unplanned collision with the gaseous body. All is fine after the collision, except the ship has lost ability to decelerate - hence to arrive at its destination!

Damaged portions can be repaired, but they're outside the hull, & for complicated reasons, cannot be repaired except in intergalactic empty space. Thus begins a grand adventure with an unusual happy ending.

Fact sheet.

First published: Galaxy, June & August 1967 as a 2-part serial.
Download full text from Webscription.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of Poul Anderson.