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Book Note: David Gerrold, Leaping to the Stars

I read this book about 19-Jun-2020. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2002. This note was last modified Monday, 29-Jun-2020 19:02:58 PDT.

This is book 3 of the "The Far Side of the Sky" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Third book of a series, and I haven't read the other two. Exigencies of trying to read books from the library, availability is random and spotty, and it could take months to get all the books in order.

This might be the conclusion of a trilogy (given that it's from 2002; the fact that Gerrold hasn't finished his Chthorr series yet might argue that's not definitive, though).

It's told from the POV of a barely-adolescent boy. His family has experienced extreme adventures in the previous two books, including him divorcing his parents, and fleeing Earth for the Moon. We also might see the start of the "polycrisis", when everything got screwed up at once, in those books—it's in full flower in this one. In addition to parents, a hanger on of the mother, his siblings (two brothers, one older one younger), and a hanger on of his older brother, the family is traveling with a HARLIE artificial intelligence unit, placed in the body of a toy monkey.

They are on the way to join the last starship to Outbeyond, one of a handful of colonies planted on planets of other stars (this one is 35 light years away; they have a drive that currently lets them get to about 60c). The starship is also delivering a last load of colonists and supplies to New Revelation, which is as bad as the name makes it sound.

This is probably The Last Starship From Earth (with apologies to John Boyd) at least for some time. New Revelation and Outbeyond are both right on the edge of viability.

They have adventures on Luna, and adventures before launch, and adventures in flight, and adventures at New Revelation (including a mutiny that is successfully put down).

In the process our protagonist (Chigger, more formally Charles Dingillian) is learning about growing up. He's being pushed by circumstances of course. Instead of just one, he has at least 4 authority figures to talk to, rely on, and disagree with—his older brother, the captain of the starship, the pastor leading the New Revelation colonists, and the HARLIE unit.

Of course they don't much agree. So Charles has to work it out for himself. Since the story is first person from his point of view, we're taken along for that ride.

While no author is ever much "like" any other (not even Robert B. Parker trying to be Raymond Chandler), this book has some significant similarities to the better novels in Heinlein's earlier work.

The book manages to end as they're leaving New Revelation; we never learn what state the colony on Outbeyond is in, or whether they have any more adventures before or after reaching there.

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David Dyer-Bennet