Monday, July 29, 2013

Variable Star

Variable Star started out as a n outline written by Robert A. Heinlein during his early "juvenile" period. Long after Heinlein's death, it was adopted by Spider Robinson and finally given the novel treatment. The main character is a poor college student, studying in Vancouver. His girlfriend would like to get married. However, he would like to wait until they have the means. She then reveals that she is actually heiress to the richest man in the solar system. He is invited to join the family. However, he doesn't like the idea of having his life controlled so deeply. With the help of his girlfriend's younger sister, he escapes the compound, and eventually boards a colony ship that is set out to the far reaches of the galaxy. With the aid of some people with special abilities, they travel at nearly the speed of light. Much of the novel deals with the adventures aboard the ship. Eventually, a few of the speacial ship controllers die, leaving the ship flying endlessly in orbit. And, to make things really interesting, the sun goes Nova and the entire earth is destroyed, leaving the colonists the only hope for humanity. However, the ship they are on is likely the only one that knows that the deadly radiation blast is coming, leaving humanity in dire straits. Luckily, our narrator's former girlfriend has married a genius physicists who has developed faster than light speed travel. They come to the ship to get provisions, unearth some not so-nice plans, and eventually he hooks up with his true love.

The novel has its ups and downs. At times it feels like a Heinlein novel. At other times he get Simpson's and "War on Terror" refs. The combination can at times be annoying. The middle of the novel also seems to go on for a little bit too long. There is a decent story in there with plenty of fodder for a sequel, but it could use some more work.

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