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Tau Zero
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Monthly Read: Themed > September 2013 Themed Read - Tau Zero

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Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
This month, our theme is Time Travel and we're embarking on a journey with Poul Anderson and the crew of the Leonora Christine.

I've just started it myself, and am looking forward to the discussion!

message 2: by Megan (last edited Sep 10, 2013 06:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
I'm feeling a little lonely here! Is anyone else in on this read this month?

Here's my review of Tau Zero, for what it's worth.

Derek (derek_broughton) I'm 60% in — just waiting for the discussion to begin!

message 4: by Dabbling (new) - added it

Dabbling Madman (musicpowered) This book looks interesting. I may have to swing by the store and look for a copy this weekend.

message 5: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - added it

Maggie K | 1280 comments Mod
I have a question for people reading this...would you consider this time travel? I know it is a subjective question, with no correct answer, but what is your feeling?

Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
I think there's a good argument to say that if this is about time travel, you could extend that to say that every book is about time travel. :)

Derek (derek_broughton) It depends on the ending, and I haven't got there yet. Megan's review implies that the ship remains relativistic. In that case, it's essentially in its own universe, and not time travelling in this one. Even if they're successful, and find a place to stop, they'll be so far spatially from their beginning point, that once again it's as if they have not travelled in time at all. Unlike, for instance, Spin where I would say they really do travel forward in time

Dylan (dyarch) You could say Tau Zero is "about" "time travel" by playing with semantics a bit, but it is not a time travel novel as the term is typically used or understood. It would be like calling A Game of Thrones an alternate history novel because it chronicles historical events that differ from real history.

Derek (derek_broughton) I'm having a real problem believing the basic premise here, which seriously impedes my enjoyment.

1) They can't decelerate. "…if we generate a lateral vector by activating the Number Three and Four decelerators…" So that implies that there are at least two other decelerators. Can't they just decelerate more slowly? So they may not hit their original target (though I can't help thinking they could decelerate on a parabolic path of arbitrary length), but it beats a billion year trip into the future and then still needing to find a planet. It makes me think that someone, presumably Reymont, might be pulling a Bilbo (Sorry, wrong movie) Ash from Alien.

2) And the repair job? We're just going to get into a place where there's almost no matter (and therefore no fuel either), and take a little space walk. Sure there's less chance of being hit by a light-speed proton, than if they'd done it immediately after the accident, but they're also more massive and faster — I'm guessing the actual radiation hazard would be pretty well equal.

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Suzanne | 69 comments I would not consider it time travel - to me, time travel maybe needs to be changing times without changing location. It IS about time and about travel....(kind of like saying 'he's a boy and a friend but not a boyfriend). I like the ideas of this story - not super fond of any of the characters yet (and sounds like it'll stay that way. But it is fun thinking of exploring and finding a new place to colonize - and I wish that was what actually happened.

Derek (derek_broughton) I just finished. Review here.

Megan's review is right on the button (except that I wasn't thrilled with Variable Star, either). With Variable Star I objected to the science; with Tau Zero it's the characters. We have 50 people on board the ship, and only two of them have any character at all. Reymont's character is notoriously hidden from all his shipmates, so we only get the briefest glimpses into him, and frankly I wish I knew less about Ingrid's character. Her job as First Officer seems to be to fuck any man who is having personal problems.

While the science is tolerably good, the actions of the characters, because of that science, suck. I know I know more about physics than the average reader, but this ship is supposed to have some of the brightest minds ever produced on Earth—how could they never imagine that the further into the future you travel (gotta get that time-travel thing in here), the more scattered the galaxies, and the less fuel you will find to power your deceleration. I'd worked that out about 10 billion years before the crew.

And 50 people losing everything they've ever known, and not even one committed suicide?

Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
See, I know nothing about the science, so in Variable Star, that left me free to enjoy the characters! :D

But yes, that is a major problem with Tau Zero, as far as I'm concerned.

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Suzanne | 69 comments I appreciate the reviews - you said it quite well. I really skimmed through the last half of the book because I didn't care a bit about any of the characters and I'd gotten enough out of the "science" part.

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments I just finished it, here's my review:
What I found most surprising was that given I was totally hating it by the one-quarter mark, I was loving it at the end. The characters were so flat, and the "science" was so tediously drawn-out that I just wanted to scream at whoever out there thought this was a "master-work." But somehow the 2D characters slowly grew in their power as the fascination/horror of the situation began to sink in. I didn't really care about the science, so I was completely willing to suspend disbelief and take his word for what was happening. I find that's a thin line that works for some and not others. (And I do agree that it was a cheat to nominate this for time-travel!)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments So, just out of curiosity I went back and checked, and the folks who nominated it for time travel, did indeed qualify their nomination by saying it didn't quite fit the category - so I guess I can't really complain.

message 16: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Doez | 38 comments Megan wrote: "I'm feeling a little lonely here! Is anyone else in on this read this month?

Here's my review of Tau Zero, for what it's worth."

You´ll never walk alone, Megan.

70% read and enjoying it. I´ll comment when finished

message 17: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Doez | 38 comments Well, 3 stars in the end.

I understand the science part could be too hard if you are not into science but it is the interesting part. The part of the plot does not much worth it. It could have been developed better. The idea is good and with it and that physics undestanding, Andersson could have written a better book.

Of course not time travel or space opera. This is a clear example of hard sci-fi.

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