I came across a recommendation for Tau Zero by Poul Anderson on a top 10 list of science fiction novels. I was a bit intrigued because I recognized all of the authors on the list except this one. I did a little bit of research and found that this novel was more of “hard” science fiction. I wasn’t sure exactly what to except, and after just a few chapters I was pleasantly surprised.
A group of 25 male and 25 female scientists are selected to go on an interstellar colonization mission. Their ship, the Lenora Christine, is equipped with an advanced Buzzard engine. This engine is designed to feed off of hydrogen particles in its path while at the same time repelling other particles that would normally tear the ship apart at high velocities. The ship is designed to travel at near the speed of light, and relativity plays a significant role in the plot. After striking a nebulae that was a bit too dense for the Buzzard engine to redirect enough particles, the decelerator was damaged. There was no way to slow down. If they shut the Buzzard engine down to make repairs, they would be killed in minutes without the shielding. Continue reading »