The Void Captain's Tale
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The Void Captain's Tale

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  226 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In the Second Starfaring Age, humans travel the universe via a technology they barely understand, propelled by a space drive consisting of mysteriously complex mechanisms and, symbiotically linked to it, a living woman, the Void Pilot. Pilots are rare, and the ability to be a Pilot also entails physical wasting and a shortened life.

But Pilots live only for the timeless mom...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 20th 2001 by Tom Doherty Associates (first published 1982)
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Dune by Frank HerbertFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyThe Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyRendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. ClarkeThe Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Golden Age & New Wave SF
105th out of 227 books — 212 voters
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkePerdido Street Station by China Miéville
Nebula Award Runners-Up
64th out of 71 books — 61 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 433)
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Elf M.
In contrast to the recently-reviewed Charles Runyon's "Deeply Sicko SF" (as determined by the readers of rec.arts.sf.written) about which I blogged the other day, Norman Spinrad is simply a writer's writer, and his book, The Void-Captain's Tale is a masterpiece. His characters have individual, powerful voices, and one can literally feel the number of re-writes Spinrad went through to make sure everyone in his books is unique and special. His cultures are dense, and with just a few special touche...more
Jeremy Leipert
Although the book contains much quotable and interesting material, it ultimately fails in a way almost uniquely reserved for science fiction: The artificiality of its construction leaves it bereft of humanity. The book blends Japanese, French, Spanish, and German phrases into the English of its projected future; this conceit is never as interesting in practice as in idea, and wears heavily on the reader only one quarter into the text. The projected culture of the book is permeated by free and op...more
James Broussard
I've talked before about SF authors setting their sights a little too high, and some of the novels nominated for the Hugo or Nebula getting by more on concept than actual delivery. In my review of 'Dark Universe' I talk a little about Samuel Delany's opinion on 'story' and 'writing' and why I think he's wrong to say a novel's delivery cannot be exceeded by it's concept. I might be putting words into Delany's mouth (I had trouble finding the actual quote), but either way Void is a good example o...more
Rebecca
My boyfriend gave me this book with essentially the pretext of "it's a ship powered by female orgasms!!!" to which at first I just rolled my eyes, but eventually I gave it a shot. The first really striking thing was the writing, which was a blend of languages that made it comprehensible to the solely English speaker, but also added a layer of depth and intrigue to those who understood more. It's a style that either you love or you hate, and I loved it. It made his descriptions seem oddly more sp...more
Sean O'Brien
I had read Bug Jack Barron some time ago after I found a used copy of the novel in Seattle (it is not easy to find) and I was enthralled by it. Spinrad is a master of his own made-up dialect (not to the mind-bendingly thorough extreme of, say, Anthony Burgess) and in Bug Jack Barron he affects a sort of 60's hipster mode of writing I found very rich.

The Void Captain's Tale does not disappoint on this score. Instead of the 60's lingo, though, Spinrad uses a melange of English, German, Spanish, F...more
5pac3m0nkey
Aug 28, 2011 5pac3m0nkey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of philip k dick
Recommended to 5pac3m0nkey by: John Walter
Before you read this keep in mind, that I describe some parts of the book in very general terms to avoid really spoiling the story.
This was a spectacular find. I'd never heard of Norman Spinrad, but a friend lent me this book because Spinrad was his favorite sci-fi author.
First a quick summary of the basic storyline (without giving too much away of course); the tale takes place aboard a space craft about a thousand years in the future. The craft is capable of travelling to various populated wo...more
Andrew S  Taylor
Set in the same universe as "Child of Fortune," this book concerns the lives of people only mentioned in the periphery of that book - the Void Captains. Like the spice navigators in Dune, these intergalactic pilots are a breed apart, since their profession requires mental and physical rigors that fundamentally change them, removing them from "normal" society. The narrator of this tale breaches protocol by becoming sexually involved with one of them. Spinrad is certainly an acquired taste, but ve...more
Jason Arnett
This may have been the most difficult book I've read all year. Using its literary aspirations and eccentric mix of languages to support a slow-moving - though compelling - plot, Spinrad has crafted one of the most interesting books I've read all year. Even though it's thirty years old it still has relevance, especially in the way he handles the cultura onboard the ship. One is left, at the end, wondering what it was all for. And maybe that was his point. Glad I read it, but gladder still to be d...more
Keith Davis
A story of addiction and sexual obsession on board a luxury space craft. In order to transverse hyperspace the Void Pilot must enter into an euphoric trace similar to a drug high. When the Void Pilot dies en route one of the passengers must sacrifice herself to take his place. The Void Captain becomes obsessed with the young woman and what she is experiencing. A fascinating idea set in a complex multilingual multicultural milieu.
David
Mar 19, 2008 David rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: undersexed adolecents
Ack. This book smells bad. There's not much science in the fiction. I couldn't tell if the plot was meant to be an indictment of rich hedonistic culture, or a treatise on the worship of female orgasm as the pinnacle of human experience. The prose was tortured, and the story uninteresting. The constant references to sex and the sex scenes weren't even titillating enough to warrant a recommendation on that level.
Norm
Doggonit, I loves me some Spinrad. He has such a wide & deep voice that all of his novels are completely distinct from each other in tone & style. The Void Captain's Tale was way, waaay, out there; and brought to mind Pride & Prejudice, Dune, and some elements of Warhammer 40,000.
Todd
Tried hard to get into this, but it seemed way too cute and quaint and "look how sci-fi we is, aren't we teh coolest?1!?!/?" for my liking. This failed my 100-page rule, in that it never developed into anything I'd want to explore after I read the first 100 pages or so. //TB
Craig Harris
I read that book back in the 80's, but though I could not get into specifics about it, I found it to be good, trippy sci-fi. (The author's name came up with another book being read by someone I know, so I just wanted to give a shoutout to this volume.
Vince Ackerman
the worst written and least worthwhile book I think I have ever forced myself through. I gave it a chance because I thought the story idea was good, but the writing and the language was a waste of my time. 12 days of reading I will never get back.
Tuula
Interesting theme about new space travel methods and what how that unfolds in the roles and behaviors of the ship's crew. Requires concentration as easily can drop from the rhythm of the book.
Jamil
that old lesson of deep space tantra: when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you.
Annika
Too much showing of how the author can write a world and society and too little story.
Shannon
There is sex in some sci-fi!

That's all I have to say about that.
Steve
Apr 08, 2008 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tantric yogis & rocket scientists
A novel of Tantric space travel and the cost of breaking taboos.
James Jesso
James Jesso marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2014
Edward
Edward marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2014
Tim
Tim marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2014
Coyora Dokusho
Coyora Dokusho is currently reading it
Sep 04, 2014
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Born in New York in 1940, Norman Spinrad has been an acclaimed SF writer.

Norman Spinrad, born in New York City, is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. In 1957 he entered City College of New York and graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree as a pre-law major. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, and now lives in Paris. He married fellow novelist N. Lee Woo...more
More about Norman Spinrad...
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