It’s time for brief reviews of two science fiction novels by masters of the genre. I’ve had these books sitting around for a while, and only just got around to reading them.
Time for the Stars, by Robert A. Heinlein – I believe this is the first work I’ve read by Heinlein, an author I’ve heard has included themes of fascism and incest in his books. I didn’t see that here, aside from the statement that the protagonist is going to marry his own great-grandniece. See, the story deals with the idea that travel at the speed of light skews time, so that a vehicle achieving that speed will result in its occupants aging much more slowly than people back on Earth. The conceit here is that telepathy operates instantaneously, and it’s been discovered that twins and other close relatives can sometimes communicate telepathically. The protagonist contacts his brother while in space, and later his brother’s descendants. Nothing to write home about, but an interesting and pretty fast read.
The Songs of Distant Earth, by Arthur C. Clarke – This novel is partially Clarke’s attempt to present a more realistic depiction of space travel, without warp drive or other means of faster-than-light flight. Instead, a dying Earth sends off seedships containing genetic material to other inhabitable planets, where they can begin life anew. One of these planets, Thalassa, is entirely ocean except for three small islands, where a human population flourishes over the years. During the story, a ship with actual humans from Earth kept in suspended animation stops by Thalassa en route to another planet, and the two human cultures interact and clash. Not a whole lot really happens, but it’s not a bad read at that. I found the ideas about developments in future history to be particularly interesting.