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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  391 ratings  ·  23 reviews
When evidence of an advanced civilization is discovered by SETI astronomers, an expedition into the far reaches of the galaxy is planned and an eclectic team of scientists is chosen to make the trip. But because the origin of the alien signals is thousands of light-years away, the crew will age only a few years while millennia pass on Earth. And though they are ready to fa ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 15th 1999 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 1998)
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Starfarers was one of Poul Anderson's last works, published in 1998 three years before the science-fiction author's death at the age of 74. It also looks back decades to his early career, incorporating the short story "Ghetto" that was published back in the 1950s. Its plot praises the human ambition to explore: after x-ray starship trails are discovered in star systems far away, the starship Envoy is launched to meet these aliens.

Relativistic effects mean that thousands of years will pass on Ear
Tim Martin
_Starfarers_ is definitely both "hard" science fiction and also epic in scope.

The basic premise is that in the relatively near future SETI astronomers find evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, not by receiving and decoding any communication from distant worlds, but by discerning interesting and at first unexplainable astronomical phenomena, occurrences that with time and study lead researchers to conclude that they are evidence of starships traveling very near the speed of light.

A slightly interesting story but the writing is preposterous and pretentious. Specifically, the dialogue between characters, astronauts chosen for a mission of indeterminate length to a distant star, is unbelievably cliche and shallow. Even after spending years with eachother on the mission, they are still discussing basic facts and motivations in each others' lives? Dumb.

The larger issues, relating to the starfarers being isolated from planetary populations due to time dilation effects, are mor
Arsen Zahray
The idea for this book is really exiting, but for me it's not as enjoyable as it should be. For one, the characters aren't memorable, and there are a lot of them (I do have a problem remembering names). The other thing I didn't like is "flashbacks" - the book is mostly written as a linear story, but with "flashbacks" on what is happening on the earth or was happening in the past or whatever. I didn't like those too. And the last problem is the writing style, which in my opinion could be more exc ...more
I absolutely loved this book!!

I haven't read a lot of books that take place in space, so "Starfarers" was a fantastic place to start. And it isn't quite what I expected from the summary that was on the back.

The worst part to get through was the very beginning, simply because there was a lot of scientific talk that went over my head until I went back to reread it. However, once I got past the prologue and into the actual story, it held my interest and left me wanting more.

"Starfarers" has a littl
I liked most of this story, until a few stupid actions by a couple characters near the end. Over-all it was thought-provoking and engaging, except for the few disappointments near the end.
I actually started this one a couple days ago, just took a while to enter it.

Good idea. Boring read though. Not one of Anderson's better executions.
This book has an interesting premise, and takes place over eleven thousand years on Earth, and about six, due to time dilation, aboard the starship "Envoy". The story is weak on science, and the credibility of the state of the Earth- and humankind in general- is not too good. However, the story of the interpersonal relationships, the encounters with aliens, the trials and tribulations experienced by "Envoy"'s crew is fascinating. Poul Anderson has the most fertile mind of any Sci-Fi writer since ...more
June Seymour
This book is my type of science fiction. Science based, strange aliens, even stranger aliens and artificial intelligence. The story was interesting. It jumped from Earth to the spaceship. It did not utilize warp speed so the journey took 10,000 years of Earth time to about 8 of ship time(travel close to the speed of light, time dilation.) My biggest complaint with the book was that it was a little verbose.
Mar 28, 2008 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: scifi
Poul Anderson does not ease a reader into his stories very well, but kind of throws you into the deep end of the pool by expecting you to intimately know the plot and all the characters from the very first page. This makes it very difficult to make it past the first chapter in any of his books. However, if you do struggle through, Poul peppers his stories with brilliant ideas that make it so worth the read.
I read this as the first of 8 books over 450 pages long in a challenge that lasts from March 1, 2010 to dec.31. I expected to like it because Poul Anderson is an award-winning science fiction author and I loved the premise of the book. I struggled through it and did not enjoy the characters, their relationships, and the boring science. Sorry!
Matthew Hester
I was debating on whether I would try to to write a review extremely pretentiously to prove a point how terrible and pretenious this book was, but it wasnt worth the time or effort.
Anderson did well in making sure his science was realistic and believable; but unfortunately he forgot to write a good book in the process.
This book looked promising from page one as a really good science-fiction story. For many parts it was such a story. As it progressed, however, one of the story lines simply degenerated into what seemed to me like a cheap romance. It ruined the book for me at the time, as it brought everything to a screeching halt.
I managed about 30%, just couldn't continue with it. The story was interesting but the writing so stilted. Was almost as if the book was a translation. Very odd.
Oh so disappointed. I love Anderson's work. He is one of my favorite authors. The idea behind this book is awesome. Unfortunately the book drags on and on and is 200 pages too long. Would sat this book is not indicative of Anderson's overall genius.
Shana Yates
The book was fairly well done. A bit on the long side, but included a lot of interesting ideas. The end felt sort of sudden (despite the length). Overall, not bad, but not the best science fiction I've ever read.
A bit too long and stilted in places, Starfarers is worth reading because of the concepts used in the narrative. Much more thought-provoking than Hollywood fodder like Contact (the movie).
Larry Head
I actually really loved this book from Poul. Conceptually it was different and scientifically I think he was really trying to not overdue current technology ( as available when it was written).
Great description of alien races and contact with them. What an imagination.
Mar 31, 2013 Kerri-ann marked it as to-read
Shelves: literary-award
John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Science Fiction Novel (1999)
Great book.
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Pseudonym A. A. Craig, Michael Karageorge, Winston P. Sanders, P. A. Kingsley.

Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous a
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“In the intricate and mutable space-time geometry at the black hole, in-falling matter and energy interacted with the virtualities of the vacuum in ways unknown to the flatter cosmos beyond it. Quasi-stable quantum states appeared, linked according to Schrodinger's wave functions and their own entanglement, more and more of them, intricacy compounding until it amounted to a set of codes. The uncertainty principle wrought mutations; variants perished or flourished; forms competed, cooperated, merged, divided, interacted; the patterns multiplied and diversified; at last, along one fork on a branch of the life tree, thought budded.
That life was not organic, animal and vegetable and lesser kingdoms, growing, breathing, drinking, eating, breeding, hunting, hiding; it kindled no fires and wielded no tools; from the beginning, it was a kind of oneness. An original unity differentiated itself into countless avatars, like waves on a sea. They arose and lived individually, coalesced when they chose by twos or threes or multitudes, reemerged as other than they had been, gave themselves and their experiences back to the underlying whole. Evolution, history, lives eerily resembled memes in organic minds.
Yet quantum life was not a series of shifting abstractions. Like the organic, it was in and of its environment. It acted to alter its quantum states and those around it: action that manifested itself as electronic, photonic, and nuclear events. Its domain was no more shadowy to it than ours is to us. It strove, it failed, it achieved. They were never sure aboardEnvoy whether they could suppose it loved, hated, yearned, mourned, rejoiced. The gap between was too wide for any language to bridge. Nevertheless they were convinced that it knew something they might as well call emotion, and that that included wondering.”
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