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The Dark Beyond the Stars

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  476 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
For two thousand years, the starship Astron has searched the galaxy for alien life--without success. Now, just as the ship is falling apart, the only direction left to explore is across the Dark, a one-hundred-generation journey through empty space.

The ship's captain--immortal, obsessed--refuses to abandon the quest. He will cross the Dark, or destroy the ship trying.

Paperback, 420 pages
Published November 15th 1997 by Orb Books (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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SF. Sab told me she was reading a book where this guy wakes up with amnesia and starts having lots of gay sex in space. Doesn't that sound like a great story? I thought so. Sadly, it's only a small part of this one. There's a lot of casual, same sex fooling around, but it's in a culture where "gay" doesn't have any meaning and sex has no taboos attached, so there's no sense of tension. It's barely even gay. I wanted more of an exploration of the sexual politics of the spaceship's closed society, ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
My favorite science fiction books are usually "idea" driven. By this, I mean that characters are introduced only to move the story along. Authors that come to mind are Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Greg Egan etc.

At the other end of the spectrum are authors like Robert Charles Wilson, Frank Herbert and Ursula K. LeGuin who start with a "what if?" scenario and study how it effects the lives of the people in the book. While I don't dislike these kinds of books, I generally tend to forget them
Jun 10, 2011 Scythan rated it it was amazing
First Read:
Wow! This is an AWESOME book! I could not put it down, and ended up reading its 408 pages in a day and a bit. This novel has everything going for it! Great writing, great story, believable characters, the right amounts of tension, action, drama, thought-provoking ideas and revelations... I definitely recommend this!

Second Read:
I knew where the book was going, so I didn't get many of the benefits this time around, but I still enjoyed it a lot :)
Apr 25, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it
I was in my pre-teens when I read this BUT I thought it was so great that I still remember it now. There's so much food-for-thought about the existance of other life in the universe and just how small the human race really is.

And there's a whole lot of gay/bi-sexuality going on and none of the characters thought it was anything unusual. This storyline was also the first time that I realized that all these societal norms we all understand as "normal" don't actually mean anything. Lock a handful
Michael Battaglia
Feb 07, 2013 Michael Battaglia rated it it was amazing
Generation ship stories are a fairly well-known sub-genre of SF, starting as a logical explanation for how humanity would be able to cross the great distances between the stars without violating the laws of physics, tucking in for a journey that might conceivably take thousands of years. A lot of the times those stories can be subdivided into a few other distinct types. There's the ones where the people on the ship don't realize they've been on a ship for years and years and have evolved new ...more
Aug 27, 2010 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Good hard SF. Moby Dick meets Star Trek with a dash of Wandering Jew.

The basis premise is flawed, though. The "Dark" is pictured as the starless void between two arms of the Milky Way which the multi-generational explorers must cross to find a richer area to search. But that's exactly where the earth is. The less crowded neighborhood between the arms may be the best place to look. Like Star Trek, Robinson commits the error of picturing it as having an "edge" with lots of starts on one side and a
Bill Nobes
Jan 22, 2011 Bill Nobes rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite SciFi books ever! I've been waiting for it to come to the kindle for years so I could re-read but finally gave up and got the dead tree version.

Plot wise it's not epic. It's strength is character development and one of the best plot turns I've ever read.

The author telegraphed it loud, you knew it was coming, and it was still amazing.
Aug 01, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
I was recommended this book off a list of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror novels that have gay characters in them. Pretty much every character in the novel was bisexual, which is fine, but I was expecting the main character to be gay, so that was mildly disappointing. This has nothing to do with my review, it's just an FYI in case you're hoping the novel is about the experiences of a gay character in space.

As for the book itself, I felt annoyed with the way it was written most of the time because it
Feb 18, 2013 Furio rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, gay-sf
There seem to be two main subgenres in SF: action packed or meditative.
This work belongs to the second and has many merits but, after reading a couple of them, I really begin to think they hardly make for good reads: their quality may differ -here it is definitely high- but in the end they always end by being gloom, bleak, depressing; the evil innate in human society is usually a relevant theme.

In this book plot is tight, writing fine and always to the point; a perfectly believable social struct
Jun 19, 2011 Edwick rated it really liked it
I would give this book 5 stars except the author's voice at times was difficult to follow. The content and pace of the story was great, a little slow at first but it picked up near the end. I cant exactly put my finger on why the author's voice was strange at times, but it just was. Other than that this was a terrific book! The ending was absolutely fantastic.

I loved the author's take on what humans would be like in an isolated environment for generations and how they maintain their link to the
Abner Rosenweig
Sep 05, 2014 Abner Rosenweig rated it it was amazing
After tearing through "The Power," I had to read all of Robinson's major works and came to TDBTS next. Fantastic! Just the kind of sci-fi I love--visual, suspenseful, atmospheric, epic conflicts, questions of cosmological import, and characters with whom you can deeply identify. Robinson uses imagery ingeniously to convey the irony on board the Astron. Nothing is as it first seems, and the layers of truth are expertly peeled away to reveal mysteries and surprises in a thrilling way. The ...more
Sep 06, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Frank Robinson returns to Sci-Fi with a complex, intriguing space opera concerned with the nature of man and of being human which harkens back to The Power. Great plot, great characters, surprise ending, great read.

To hard SF fundamentalists: It ain't hard SF. Get over it!
Jul 28, 2011 Stéphanie rated it liked it
Shelves: sfff, owned
Good, but it took me forever to read this novel. There were passages that bored me to no end and others more thrilling. But overall, while it was a well-written book, the plot development however, was waaaay too slow for my tastes.
May 13, 2016 girlmedicine rated it it was amazing
loved it loved it loved it
lgbt+ (author wrote speeches for Harvey Milk)
TW rape scene

Mar 23, 2007 Dan rated it it was amazing
The only sci-fi book I've read that was actually worth reading. Or something to that effect.
Sep 18, 2016 StarMan rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

An above-average sci-fi tale of the "generation starship" variety, wherein humans travel to other stars the sloooow way. No magical FTL (Faster-Than-Light) technology here!

The Astro is the first and only Earth vessel sent out in search of intelligent life. Many years have passed, and not a single E.T. has been found --if our amnesiac protagonist is to believe what he's being told. And he soon has good reason to question almost everything. It also seems the mission has be
Andy Phillips
Oct 03, 2014 Andy Phillips rated it really liked it
Shelves: generation-ships
Sparrow has an accident while exploring a newly discovered planet and awakes on the Aston, a starship that is on a mission to discover alien lifeforms. The ship left Earth over 2,000 years ago and has searched the universe for generations while finding no signs of life. The mysterious Captain has been at the helm for the whole journey while the crews come and go, with their numbers slowly dwindling as resources become more and more scarce.

Sparrow has no memories of his life before the accident a
Jan 20, 2016 Kiv rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia, scifi
This book is a really compelling read with highly relatable characters, and a finely crafted plot that hits home at every turn. I did find myself struggling quite a bit with the repeated visits to the argument about the existence of life in the universe outside of Earth. This argument is visited in great detail several times through the book, often without any new developments (in idea, or in the characters). At a certain point, it became so exhausting that I was actually ready to give up on ...more
Benjamin Atkinson
I had never read a book by Frank Robinson, and I have a special affinity for generation ship themes. In terms of world building, the ship, the sense of wonder, and the "creativity" I would give this three stars. However, his use of both literary and religious allusions to drop hints about the characters was refreshingly original. Also, this book chimed in at just over 400 pages and I must say that it probably could reached 5 stars had 100 pages been simply cut out. Alas, they were not. I know ...more
Roger Marcellus-Litvin
Sep 06, 2016 Roger Marcellus-Litvin rated it it was amazing
An interesting look at the social/psychological dynamics of being on an intergenerational starship exploring the galaxy for life. It read at time like a mystery novel and, like the main character, I was never sure who could be trusted. I really appreciated the LGBT-inclusive themes as well.
Patrice Leonard
Dec 15, 2013 Patrice Leonard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
D'une simplicité à couper le souffle, un ode à la vie et à la mort aussi. Je mettrais ce livre dans le rang des essais philosophiques, la science fiction n'est que le support à une analyse d'un huis clos de l'humanité en marche vers sa disparition, son hégémonie ou encore sa faiblesse. sont abordés tour à tour les thèmes de l'éternité face à la mort, de la communauté face à l'individu et vice versa, des rapports de pouvoir, du pouvoir de la procréation, de l'absolu face au quotidien,... et tout ...more
Jul 22, 2014 J. rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I loved this book. I was eager to hear what was going to happen next, it reminds me of the Heinlien Juvenile books.

As usual, William Dufris' narration was spot on.

I did have a couple of complaints about the book, one of which is a spoiler (marked as such).

The book features way too much homosexuality. This mental disorder adds nothing to the story and is repulsive.

(view spoiler)
Jun 10, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
This book started off as an amusingly similiar tale: a clumsy and forgetful scientist trying to figure out how things worked in a world that he continually struggled to remember the details about. He was cautious, sarcastic, and witty. Alas, it didn't continue. It's clever, and a good read, but there are a lot of inductive leaps happening as you go backwards and forwards in time, and it's not easy to catch up.
Mar 05, 2010 Richard rated it it was ok
As an avid sci-fi reader, this is the first novel I read about a generation ship. And, like the generation ship, the starting part is a bit slow and it drags toward tha middle. I like that part though that there are hints that Captain Michael and Sparrow has something in between them that was not revealed untill the end part of the book. There are a lot of "whys" at the beginning and answers were revealed like a rolling juggernaut in the end.
Jul 29, 2016 Alyssa rated it it was amazing
To be plain, I loved his style. The pacing was good, the plot interesting, and he used just enough words to get the story to the reader. No wonder this guy has had movies made of his books. I haven't read anything else by him, but I probably will... and soon. Recommend this one to anyone who likes science fiction, stories about deep space exploration, love, loss, sociological studies, human history, or just a good yarn to keep you up all night!
Aug 06, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected a standard ship searching for alien life story, but this had enough twists and interesting characters to make it fast moving. And then just in the last few chapters when I thought I figured out the ending and kept reading to see if I was right the author blew me away at the book's conclusion. Very enjoyable and recommended to all sci-fi fans.
Ingrid Wood
Dec 30, 2012 Ingrid Wood rated it it was amazing
I first thought this would be yet another run-of-the-mill science fiction book. No, it is not. It nicely ties in with my inquiry of 'do we really need/want to know the truth?' that's been running around in my mind lately...

Love his writing style. The question of what is/isn't humanity; genetic manipulation; seeing threads of personalities. It is rich.
Rogerio Senna
Apr 05, 2016 Rogerio Senna rated it it was ok
There seems to be a lot of (Science) Fiction books where the author has a pretty good view of where he or she wants their characters to be at the end of the story, and will do anything to be sure that they end up there. This seems one of those books.

Me, I prefer stories that are guided by their characters, not the other way around.
Mar 25, 2013 June rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
A story about a generational ship with new information constantly being brought forth. I read this around the same time as Mieville's The City & The City and the release of information follows a same, shocking path.

A great thrift store find. I would have paid new prices for this, but instead I paid $.99.
Nov 22, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it
There's a lot in this book. The reason I really liked it is because of the heavy sense of loneliness and isolation faced by the starship crew of this tale. It brings to mind how alone we are on Earth and how precious life is.
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so many themes, so many open questions 2 5 Aug 08, 2015 03:45AM  
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Frank M. Robinson was an American science fiction and techno-thriller writer. he got his start writing for the old pulp fiction magazines. He wrote several novels with Thomas N. Scortia until Scortia's death in 1986.

Born in Chicago, Illinois. Robinson was the son of a check forger. He started out in his teens working as a copy boy for International News Service and then became an office boy for Zi
More about Frank M. Robinson...

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