Book Review: Tau Ceti – by Kevin J. Anderson

I picked up this book, since the story was about a generation ship.

Earth’s resources were depleted, and natural catastrophes threatened the survival of the human race. As a last effort, earth pulled together and built a starship named the Beacon, fill it with supplies for 3,000 people, and everything they would need to colonize another planet. A planet around the star Tau Ceti, about 10 light-years away, was identified as a good candidate and the ship left earth. The journey would take more than 200 years. The humans that boarded the ship knew they would never arrive at the destination. Their children would not arrive. Their grandchildren would spend their entire lives inside the ship, never knowing earth and never knowing anything but the ship. Generations would live and die only to know that one day their descendants would arrive at the new planet and start a new human colony.

The story starts about 25 years before the arrival of the Beacon at its destination. The generation that would arrive is now alive. Imagine you lived all your life on a ship that left earth around the year 1810. Two-hundred years of history have gone by.

Of course, on earth, things changed tremendously over those 200 years too. Faster-than-light travel has been invented, and now the journey that took 200 years for the Beacon would only take two months using the new ships. There is a chance for humans to leapfrog over the Beacon and arrive at Tau Ceti before them.

And so the story progresses.

However, about 20% into the book I got tired of the stilted, unreal dialog that prevailed. The author doesn’t show me, he constantly tells me, and not very colorfully either. The book is poorly written, the characters are flat and shapeless caricatures. I am interested in what happens next, but I am constantly yanked back into my world, reading a book, finding myself criticizing the book rather than getting immersed in it.


Rating: * (because I do like the premise of  the story, I just couldn’t stand it anymore , and I won’t buy any more Kevin Anderson books).

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Tau Ceti – by Kevin J. Anderson

  1. I love generation ships — but yeah, anything by Kevin Anderson is best avoided. What’s your favorite generation ship novel/story? Mine has to be John Brunner’s masterful early short story Lungfish (1957) which hints at themes so many works on the same subject pick up on later….

    1. You know, I am sure I have read more than 10 generation ship stories, but I can’t name one now, but the most recent I read: Ark – by Stephen Baxter. Your recommendation for Lungfish is valuable. I’ll look for it now.

  2. It’s in Brunner’s collection Entry to Elsewhere (1972) — long out of print. Unfortunately the other two novellas in the collection are terrible….. But worth finding for Lungfish alone.

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