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Starmans quest, p.1
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       Starman's Quest, p.1

           Robert Silverberg
 
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Starmans Quest


  Produced by Greg Weeks, Stephen Blundell and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  Starman's Quest

  BOOKS BY ROBERT SILVERBERG

  _Starman's Quest_ _Revolt on Alpha C_ _The Thirteenth Immortal_ _Master of Life and Death_ _The Shrouded Planet_ (with Randall Garrett) _Invaders from Earth_

  Starman's Quest

  _by_

  ROBERT SILVERBERG

  GNOME PRESS [Device]

  HICKSVILLE, N. Y.

  Copyright 1958 by Robert Silverberg

  _First Edition. All Rights Reserved_

  _This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission, except for brief quotations in critical articles and reviews._

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-8767

  MANUFACTURED IN THE U.S.A.

  Transcriber's Note:

  Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note. Variant spellings have been retained.

  _Author's Preface_

  This was my second novel, which I wrote when I was 19, in my junior yearat Columbia. I've written better ones since. But readers interested inthe archaeology of a writing career will probably find much to explorehere.

  Robert Silverberg 17 May 2008

  FOR BILL EDGERTON

  1933-1956

  _Prologue_

  The Lexman Spacedrive was only the second most important theoreticalaccomplishment of the exciting years at the dawn of the Space Age, yetit changed all human history and forever altered the pattern ofsociocultural development on Earth.

  Yet it was only the _second_ most important discovery.

  The Cavour Hyperdrive unquestionably would have held first rank in anyhistorical assessment, had the Cavour Hyperdrive ever reached practicaluse. The Lexman Spacedrive allows mankind to reach Alpha Centauri, theclosest star with habitable planets, in approximately four and a halfyears. The Cavour Hyperdrive--if it ever really existed--would havebrought Alpha C within virtual instantaneous access.

  But James Hudson Cavour had been one of those tragic men whosepersonalities negate the value of their work. A solitary, cantankerous,opinionated individual--a crank, in short--he withdrew from humanity todevelop the hyperspace drive, announcing at periodic intervals that hewas approaching success.

  A final enigmatic bulletin in the year 2570 indicated to some thatCavour had achieved his goal or was on the verge of achieving it;others, less sympathetic, interpreted his last message as a madman'swild boast. It made little difference which interpretation was accepted.James Hudson Cavour was never heard from again.

  A hard core of passionate believers insisted that he _had_ developed afaster-than-light drive, that he had succeeded in giving mankind aninstantaneous approach to the stars. But they, like Cavour himself, werelaughed down, and the stars remained distant.

  Distant--but not unreachable. The Lexman Spacedrive saw to that.

  Lexman and his associates had developed their ionic drive in 2337, afterdecades of research. It permitted man to approach, but not to exceed,the theoretical limiting velocity of the universe: the speed of light.

  Ships powered by the Lexman Spacedrive could travel at speeds justslightly less than the top velocity of 186,000 miles per second. For thefirst time, the stars were within man's grasp.

  The trip was slow. Even at such fantastic velocities as the LexmanSpacedrive allowed, it took nine years for a ship to reach even thenearest of stars, stop, and return; a distant star such as Bellatrixrequired a journey lasting two hundred fifteen years each way. But eventhis was an improvement over the relatively crude spacedrives then inuse, which made a journey from Earth to Pluto last for many months andone to the stars almost unthinkable.

  The Lexman Spacedrive worked many changes. It gave man the stars. Itbrought strange creatures to Earth, strange products, strange languages.

  But one necessary factor was involved in slower-than-light interstellartravel, one which the Cavour drive would have averted: the FitzgeraldContraction. Time aboard the great starships that lanced through thevoid was contracted; the nine-year trip to Alpha Centauri and backseemed to last only six weeks to the men on the ship, thanks to thestrange mathematical effects of interstellar travel at high--but notinfinite--speeds.

  The results were curious, and in some cases tragic. A crew that had agedonly six weeks would return to find that Earth had grown nine yearsolder. Customs had changed; new slang words made languageunintelligible.

  The inevitable development was the rise of a guild of Spacers, men whospent their lives flashing between the suns of the universe and who hadlittle or nothing to do with the planet-bound Earthers left behind.Spacer and Earther, held apart forever by the inexorable mathematics ofthe Fitzgerald Contraction, came to regard each other with a bitter sortof distaste.

  The centuries passed--and the changes worked by the coming of the LexmanSpacedrive became more pronounced. Only a faster-than-light spacedrivecould break down the ever-widening gulf between Earther and Spacer--andthe faster-than-light drive remained as unattainable a dream as it hadbeen in the days of James Hudson Cavour.

  --_Sociocultural Dynamics_ Leonid Hallman London, 3876

 
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