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The Halcyon Drift

(Hooded Swan #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In a galactic culture that extends from quasi-Utopian worlds like New Alexandria to vermin-infested slums like Old Earth, starship pilots have become the great romantic heroes of the day. When Star-Pilot Grainger is rescued from a shipwreck, he finds himself pressed into reluctant service to fly the Hooded Swan, the prototype of a new kind of interstellar ship. He's also p ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 176 pages
Published 1972 by DAW SF Books
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  274 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Start your review of The Halcyon Drift (Hooded Swan, #1)
Jun 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: daw_own
DAW Collectors #32

Cover Artist:Jack Gaughan

Birthdate: 25 July 1948, Birthplace: Shipley, Yorkshire, England, UK

Alternate Names: Francis Amery, Olympe Chambrionne, Brian Craig.

The Prologue forms the most evocative and moody portion the novel. Grainger, stranded after a crash on an alien planet near the edge of the Halcyon Drift, a grimy and dangerous area of space, ruminates near the grave of Michael Lapthorn, his shipmate…. A parasitic alien enters his mind and “serves” as his conscience. Graing
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, reviewed
I adore this book, and I'm biased towards it because I read it at a time when I was coming out of a reading drought, where nothing excited me and I wasn't compelled to pick up any books at all. On a whim I picked up the Werewolves of London out of my collection and read it, and I promptly fell in love with the author, Brian Stableford. This led me to devour the only other two books of his I owned: Inherit The Earth, and this one, Halcyon Drift.

Of the three, while Werewolves of London is the bett
Peter Tillman
Read so long ago that even the cover is unfamiliar. At least, I'm *pretty* sure I read it. Here's Grant Hutchison aka the Oikofuge on the series:
Excerpt: "the Hooded Swan books, presented in Pan’s iconic silver-blocked titles with striking cover art by Angus McKie, still hold a particular place in my memory, persisting across four decades. So it was clearly time I revisited them.

The novels are very much of their era—there are sprawling spaceports, dotted
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I picked up The Halcyon Drift by Brian M. Stableford at a library book sale for fifty cents, solely because I liked the cover art. I have never heard of the book before, nor the author. The edition I picked up has a blue background with a red spaceship in front of it. The spaceship doesn’t have many straight lines in the design, it’s all circles and ovals, and the atypical look caught my eye. Layered over the spaceship is an image of a man with a number of wires protruding from his back, a neuro ...more
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I first read this book in my teens, thirty-odd years ago. Remembering little more of it than the cover and a couple of snippets of the plot and theme, it took me a couple of years to track it down. My review, then, is inevitably coloured by nostalgia. That's both a blessing and a curse - how often do we revisit things we half-remember only to realise they weren't quite as good as we'd thought?

Nonetheless, I wasn't disappointed.

The story isn't, in essence, a complex one. Grainger, exceptional pil
Kat  Hooper
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars. Originally posted at FanLit.

Grainger, a spaceship pilot, has been shipwrecked on a deserted island in a dangerous star system called the Halcyon Drift. He’s just about to give up hope when he is unexpectedly rescued by a commercial spacecraft. They charge him for the rescue and take him to court, so now he’s deep in debt. When he arrives on Old Earth, he finds it in decline. There’s no hope of getting off or finding lucrative work, so he’s forced to accept a job offer to pilot the pro
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic of any era

Stableford, like many authors of his era wrote spare, tight, meaningful prose. The Hooded Swan books & the Daedalus Mission always seemed to me to be the quintessential examples of this. No one writes like this anymore. We are poorer for it.
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Despite being one of the best star pilots out there, Grainger's spaceship crashed on a barely liveable and unnamed world on the edge of one of the worst areas of distorted space, The Halcyon Drift. He managed to survive, though his engineer and partner died in the crash. Rescued, years later, he's left with two unwelcome burdens... one everyone knows about, a massive debt levied against him as a "salvage fee" by the corporation that answered his distress beacon, and one he keeps to himself. For ...more
Roddy Williams
Grainger - he has no first name - was half of a two man trading team who bought and sold goods through the human settled and alien worlds of the galaxy.
Encountering problems in the Halcyon Drift - a nebula where gravitational forces distort the laws of physics - Grainger crashlands on an unknown planet, killing his partner, Lapthorn and wrecking the ship, 'The Javelin'.
He is eventually rescued but not before his body is invaded by a sentient alien parasite. His rescuer, Axel Cyran of the Cradoc
About the best I can say for Brian Stableford's "Halcyon Drift" (the first book in his "Hooded Swan" series), is "meh." There's nothing really bad about it, but there's also nothing really great with it either. In general, even though the book was first published back in 1972, it reads more like a science fiction book written in the 1950s: everything's very direct and lacking in subtlety. Also, the book is written in the first person. Usually, I have no problem with first person vs third person. ...more
Fails to live up to a promising first chapter. The characters are too cool to emote and nothing ever feels fresh or surprising as a result. Still, it ticks along and there are some original ideas communicated well.
Mar 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A wonderful short journey with a misanthropic pilot named Grainger. I enjoyed this book very much and found it markedly refreshing that it never overstays its welcome on any specific idea, scene, or musing. Brian Stableford does a very interesting job creating a strange allotment of characters who all come together to create a muted, yet resonant whole. On finishing this book, it leaves me with questions of whether people ever can really change, even if they wish to. Or perhaps some are just too ...more
James Hogan
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
A classic sci-fi novel. Apparently I am still very much in a science fiction mood...and my appetite for old sci-fi has been most thoroughly whetted by the last few books I've read. This book, published in 1972, actually reads almost more like a 50s'/60s' sci-fi novel, which for me is not a bad thing! I apparently liked this book enough that I've now ordered the second book in the series. I shan't describe the plot of the book, but like a lot of older sci-fi books, the characters aren't necessar ...more
Joachim Boaz
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Full review:

"I have not had the best luck with Brian Stableford’s science fiction (albeit, I’m not sure I’ve read a single short story of his). Jesse over at Speculiction… swears (and I believe him!) that Stableford is occasionally capable of intelligent and sustained SF — consult his wonderful review of Man in a Cage (1975). Jesse barely dignifies The Halcyon Drift (1972) with a review. I’m in the same boat (or spaceship?). It took weeks of staring at my
Shaun Swick
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shockingly little conflict, and little sense of character beyond the narrator/protagonist, but sets up a world pretty nicely and has plenty of evocative passages that got my brain wondering if this could be a movie. It'd have to be plenty juiced up, though. Or integrate plot points from later books in the series (which I'm only vaguely interested in seeking out). ...more
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another one I've not read in over 30 years. Deliberately anti-climactic and written, apparently, as an alternative to gung-ho and violent space operas, this is moody, grumpy and surprisingly undramatic: which makes it all the more interesting contextually. The wind is rather under-used though, as I thought that relationship was by far the most interesting on show here. ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I really enjoyed this. It was a very slow start which fleshed out the main characters nicely using the last 1/3 of the book to tell the main story. Even so I quite enjoyed it and am looking foward to reading the next one.
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read The Fenris Device many years ago, and have wanted to read this whole series ever since. This isn’t quite as good as I remember that one being, but still enjoyable. Grainger is a sarcastic misanthrope, and the author goes a bit overboard with that at times, but it’s still fun.
Jenny Gaitskell
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Liked the noirish vibe in the beginning section, the irascible hero, and the visceral descriptions of space flight. Would've enjoying seeing more of his uninvited guest. ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish-it
Run of the mill sci-fi. Didn't finish it. ...more
Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, daw
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Donald Simmons
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Halcyon Drift is the first of six books in Stableford's Hooded Swan series, set in some future time where space travel is common but people are the same as ever.

Pilot Grainger has been stranded on a desolate planets in the Halcyon Drift, where FTL travel is difficult and dangerous, and is finally rescued by a huge commercial company, which bills him for it. Unable to pay the debt, he reluctantly becomes the test pilot for a new spaceship, a fusion of human and alien science, and finds himself go
Jonathan Palfrey
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it
I come to this book very late, having read it for the first time only today, and I definitely like it. I feel sympathy for the hero, although he's rather grumpy and alienated from humanity; and his progress through the story is interesting. I like the fact that the one woman in an otherwise male story doesn't become romantically or sexually involved with anyone (although young Johnny seems ineffectually interested). Overall it makes a good story, and it's well written by the standards of sf in 1 ...more
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Rereading this, Stableford's first major series (variously known as Star Pilot Grainger or Hooded Swam), I am struck by how well it aged in the 45 years since it was first published. Sure, some of the flights of fancy herein would not make the cut of the modern hard science fiction, but they are awesome nevertheless. I am also reminded of how much this series has shaped my thinking about science fiction and inspired me in the past.

Excellent work, even though the first book lacks biological subl
Fantasy Literature
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Grainger, a spaceship pilot, has been shipwrecked on a deserted island in a dangerous star system called the Halcyon Drift. He’s just about to give up hope when he is unexpectedly rescued by a commercial spacecraft. They charge him for the rescue and take him to court, so now he’s deep in debt. When he arrives on Old Earth, he finds it in decline. There’s no hope of getting off or finding lucrative work, so he’s forced to accept a job offer to pilot the prototype of a new hi-tech spaces
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of six books about star-pilot Grainger (no first name) and his ship the Hooded Swan. When we are introduced to Grainger he has just spent the last 2 years stranded on a rock in space after his ship crashed.
Back in civilisation he finds himself in heavy debt as a result of his rescue, with no work and an alien mind-parasite which he calls "the wind" as company.
Grainger is a laconic and practical person. He runs into a bit of luck and finds himself recruited as pilot for an exper
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This may appeal more to fans of 1950s SF. A large part of the book is this new type of starship - and much of what is significant about it here is handling extraordinary conditions of an area of distorted space. The description of the distorted space region seems like a trope with no basis in the real world. Meanwhile, the distorted region seems to have risks for the new starship and puts the pilot under much stress, and the region is hazardous to other starships if they travel through it reckle ...more
David Hambling
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Brilliant, intelligent, adult re-engineering of the whole space opera genre. Well thought-out, neatly plotted, and a million light-years from pulpy excrcises with warp drive, ray-guns and cardboard characters. This is one with people with their own motivations -- sometimes alien ones. Great start to an outstanding series.
Mark O'Donnell
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of a series of science fiction books I can read again and again. Grainger is a sort of anti hero, pushed into service to fly the ship the Hooded Swan.

Highly recommended, considering I scratch built the Hooded Swan many years ago.
Matt Jones
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the very first words I was absolutely spellbound. Grainger and the wind are one of the greatest partnerships in science fiction. The whole series is stuffed with great ideas. How I wish for a #7.
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Brian Michael Stableford is a British science fiction writer who has published more than 70 novels. His earlier books were published under the name Brian M. Stableford, but more recent ones have dropped the middle initial and appeared under the name Brian Stableford. He has also used the pseudonym Brian Craig for a couple of very early works, and again for a few more recent works. The pseudonym de ...more

Other books in the series

Hooded Swan (8 books)
  • Rhapsody in Black (Hooded Swan, #2)
  • Promised Land (Hooded Swan, #3)
  • The Paradise Game (Star-Pilot Grainger, #4)
  • The Fenris Device (Hooded Swan, #5)
  • Swan Song (Hooded Swan, #6)
  • Grainger des étoiles - Intégrale 1
  • Grainger des étoiles - Intégrale 2

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