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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  707 ratings  ·  48 reviews
We are not alone in the universe. As Earth vessels ventured out to explore near interstellar space, they found not one alien race, but many. There were no planets that hadn't already been colonized or inhabited by some space faring race other than our own. Until finally we humans discovered Astra. Elation was short lived, however, when it was realized that this habitable w ...more
Paperback, 339 pages
Published July 16th 1987 by Arrow (first published November 1985)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  707 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Crystal Starr Light
I was reading another book, but I got so tired of the issues I had with that book, I had to take a break. Plus, I got to meet Timothy Zahn on January 8th, so I was pumped to finish reading my almost complete collection of Timothy Zahn published works!

Humankind (to be politically correct) has finally developed the capacity to travel faster than light. They set upon to leave an overpopulated, overmined Earth (in typical fashion for scifi books written in this era) only to find that the rest of the
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very early Timothy Zahn from charity shop (w retro extruded cover lettering from 1985!). Humanity establishes a first offworld colony on a fairly marginal planet that various more advanced aliens don't want, then find a fully-functional vanished-race manufacturing plant that produces something everyone in the galaxy wants.

Some interesting bits but overall a bit 'meh'. I think he tried to do too much in a short book: Earth politics about the colony, colony internal political tensions incl what th
May 22, 2007 rated it liked it
This is one of Zahn's early novels, from the period in the '80's when he was represented in Analog magazine almost every month. The scientific puzzle is excellent and unusual, and the book presages Zahn's preoccupation with political intrigue. The charcters are a little on the stock side, but this was still a fun read. ...more
Peter Schott
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spinneret by Timothy Zahn is a stand-alone science fiction book set in the future of our world. Mankind has discovered the means to travel out to the stars, but when they do so they find that they’re not alone. Worse, they find that there’s nowhere to go. All available planets capable of sustaining life have been claimed and colonized. It’s only after some time that mankind finds the world of Astra, a world poor in minerals, but uninhabited. The UN puts the United States in the position of footi ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I read this in Analog magazine back in the 80's. Enjoyable story.
Enjoy this story.
Frank Hofer
Well, I managed to finish it

The characters are one dimensional stereotypes and the political wrangling a bit naive. The whole book's undertones struck me as subtly racist.

The story itself was pretty straightforward, your basic space opera where a small band overcomes the odds and comes out ahead. No real surprises, no twists, and when the big reveal shows up at the end, we get nothing but a little preaching.
Sean Goh
Apr 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Early Zahn, fairly ambitious trying to take on galactic colonisation politics with around 5-6 different alien races. The story is interesting, as the mystery unravels with some plausible scientific basis. I haven't been disappointed by a Zahn book yet, and I'm happy that this book continued the trend. ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Not my favorite Zahn novel, for sure. Very political.
Elisabeth (Enthralled by the Written Word)
I genuinely loved this story. I love how Zahn writes, and I love the universe he created within these pages. It’s a fairly standard SF leaving-earth humanity-into-the-stars tale, but it was good.
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-old
Eventhough this was written in 1985 and many of the future events were to take place in 2016, this book still held up well. I enjoyed both the story and the characters.
Janet Sketchley
Spinneret, by Timothy Zahn (ebook version from Open Road Integrated Media, 2012)

In the year 2016, Earth’s first starship sets out on Project Homestead: a mission to find a planet to colonize. They soon discover a problem: the habitable planets are already taken!

The best the humans can do is to lease a planet nobody else wants due to its complete lack of metals. The cost and risk factors push what was to be a UN mission onto the Americans. The planet is dubbed Astra, and humans’ first colony begi
Jul 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m quite the Timothy Zahn fan. I can’t entirely explain why, save that his writing style and plots tend to hook me, and keep me hooked, through most of his stories and novels. Even his weaker offerings (like Outbound Flight), still keep me pretty well entertained. There’s not a lot of authors I can say that about.

Spinneret is one of Zahn’s older novels, and one I knew almost nothing about before reading it. I’m not even sure where I got it, but I assume it m
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
This 1985 sci-fi novel fell into my hands in a combination of me realizing it’s high time I read something by Timothy Zahn, and its serendipitous re-release as an eBook. (Might have no been the most representative beginning though - very different style from Blackcollar, which I just finished.)

But here is Spinneret. In the far, far future of 2016, humanity has made it to the stars (well, who knew in the 80′s that we were going to scrap our space programs?), and is all ready to colonize the stuff
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ah, Timothy Zahn. Like comfort food from an untried restaurant -- pleasantly familiar, yet somehow new. Even his old stuff (like this one, 1985) invokes that for me; I have yet to be bored with one of his books -- the closest I've ever come was with The Backlash Mission, and that was mostly due to some of the backstory recap because it was a sequel.

This book had an interesting start -- what if we went to colonize the nearest star system, only to find out it was already populated? What if they th
J.M. Brister
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Okay, so yeah, the book is a bit dated in SOME ways. It's got an '80s/Cold War flair to it. However, I personally think that Zahn wrote some of his best works in the '80s, and this is no exception.

The book really demonstrates Zahn's ability to capture a Sci Fi reader's interest through a technical standpoint. Zahn really knows how to put the SCIENCE in Science Fiction. He will always explain to the reader not just what something is but how it works and why it works. I really respect that becaus
Alex McGilvery
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Colonel Meredith is given the thankless task of managing Earth's only colony among the stars. In Spinneret we are introduced to a universe in which all the available real estate has been claimed by other species. The only planet that is available is a place called Astra that no one wants because it has no available metals. Even the trace metals needed for plant growth are missing. The other races out in the galaxy are willing to allow Earth to settle Astra.

Meredith tries to balance the political
Stephen Ormsby
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is great seeing so many older science fiction being republished for a new generation of readers. Liz Hand and Timothy Zahn have had a good chunk of their back catalogs treated to a redesign.

Mr Zahn managed a great trick in this stand-alone novel. It has science in it that is interesting and you want to know about. As I said a great trick. I have always enjoyed ‘proper’ science in my science fiction, and this has enough to propel the story along without drowning it.

This book was originally p
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Zahn is so amazingly creative that I couldn't wait to get into this! It was a late night--more than one. Yes, the book is from 1987, so some of the handling of issues is a bit dated. But you know what? The issues themselves are still so very, very relevant (sadly so). The characters are very real; you surely know some of them, one way or another. You have your explorers/colonists, your U.S. politicians, your U.N. politicians, your aliens (quite a variety of them, in fact--Zahn's creative at work ...more
D.M. Dutcher
In the future, earth has discovered that all of the nearby stars are already colonized by aliens. Earth manages to buy one planet, called Astra, but finds it has serious problems of its own. Like not having a single scrap of metal on it.

The colony soon finds out the planet has a secret, and the colonists need to play one faction against the other, both human and alien, to survive.

It's not Zahn's best work. The world and the mystery behind it is dull, and the conflict isn't that good either. Some
Anne Trueblood
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Timothy Zahn's novels have consistently been my go-to for action and adventure sci-fi. Zahn often takes intriguing concepts--in this case Spinneret cables and alien societies--then introduces political manoeuvring and gambits for conflict. Much of Zahn's work is optimistic, pro-humanist, and morally admirable, and Spinneret is well on the idealistic side of sci-fi.
The characters are both unremarkable and dated. They are all developed characters, many of whom progress with the novel, and I had no
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Spinneret is another story that proves Timothy Zahn's prowess at writing. He has a wonderful knack of developing alien races and technologies. The differing characters and their social conflicts highlighted show a powerful grasp on humanity by the author.

This story was easy to fall into and was a page turner. The only parts that prevent me from rating this a five star story is several grammatical errors. Most likely this is due to the ebook file but one would think an established author would h
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I gave this one a rare second read. The technology and its related product were fascinating to me. It's also the only science fiction book I've ever read that tackles the possibility that once the human race gets off of its short-sighted backside and heads out into interstellar space, it might find itself that last one at that particular party. I had never considered that possibility, or its consequences before, so this book really made me think, which I like. I think this was a five star book r ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I didn't realize this book was first published in 1985 when I grabbed the eARC from NetGalley! Apparently it's being republished, along with a bunch of other Zahn books. I really enjoyed this book. It never feels dated, and I kept thinking I knew where it was going, and that I was close to the end. Then it kept going places I didn't expect it to go! That, to me, is the mark of a good book - at least, if the story goes to unexpected places in a good way. Spinneret definitely did. Grab the republi ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give this book like eight stars out of five if I could. The plot is fascinating, there are compelling characters, and I could not put it down. I was hooked on the mystery of the Spinneret from the beginning, not to mention the clashes between the UN, the President, and Meredith. In addition to being a gripping and fascinating science fiction read, Spinneret also manages to be an interesting social commentary on the politics of war, business, and the Third World. A+, would read again. Def ...more
Though the novel predates it, the story reminds me a lot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the way it's about what was supposed to be a backwater colony that gains importance as a new hub of commerce when an alien artifact is discovered. This could have used some Ferenghi though, as it mostly focuses on humans, most of whom are pretty bland. It's funny as well since this is supposed to take place in 2016 when not only do we have starships but warp drive! There's also some misplaced Cold War-isms ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Liked the science-fiction portion of it a lot. I have not read science-fiction in quite a while, and this reminded me why it is one of my favorite genres. However the politic fiction was quite inept and oversimplified, which on one hand is understandable considering the scope of this book (not series of 1000 pagers), but on the other hand it should just be avoided as much as possible. Therefor 3 stars instead of 4.
Joanna Chaplin
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this a quite plausible scenario, extrapolated from existing politics and tensions, with a solid dash of speculation about aliens. There were more competent female characters than in Warhorse, which is something that makes me happy. I don't know enough materials science to judge the hardness level, but it all sounded reasonable. An enjoyable stand-alone sci-fi tale. Edit: oh, and minority characters! Latin Americans fighting for equality in a new colony. ...more
Arjen Schwarz
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I read this book last, but picking it up again reminded me why I enjoyed it so much. It's a fairly lighthearted story, but interesting. As usual with Zahn's books it's also well written and with interesting characters.
And of course the alien races are truly alien and interesting. There are only glimpses of some of these races, but they leave me hungry for more.
In the end though, the most important thing about this book is that it's very entertaining and well paced.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
What if humanity took to the stars only to discover other alien races had already claimed all the most viable planets? What if their only option for expansion was a seemingly useless planet... that ultimately harbors a 'secret' that makes it not so useless after all? A lot of politicking and commentary on human nature in this book, but still an entertaining read. A lot of unanswered questions at the end still. ...more
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was the first book I read by Timothy Zahn. I really enjoy him as an author, though I think this early work is not as good as some of his later stuff.

A friend and I years ago found we had both read this book, but neither one of us could remember the ending! Rereading it showed me why, the end is not as good as the opening setup. But I'd recommend it for sci-fi/Zahn fans.
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he bec ...more

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