A review of Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero

Tau ZeroTau Zero by Poul Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Diamond-Hard Sci-Fi, this book is researched and referenced. Though it sometimes feels a bit like reading Stephen Hawking, this is only a fleeting impression. What can you expect? The guy’s playing with quantum physics to make a ship move, obviously he’s going to have to gloss a bit on the technology front.

What’s great about Tau Zero is the character interplay. It evolves. It’s well thought-out and feels genuine, a product of circumstance, growing strained and pushing past a sequence of thresholds to ultimately reach a breaking point – Glorious climax.

The premise of this short novel is a “Huis Clos”, one of epic proportions (if you don’t get the reference, shame on you), and like in all hyper-tense drama unfolding in a small space, it grates on the nervous system like nails on a blackboard – I mean that in a good way. Anderson delivers a suspenseful narrative with macro-level philosophical implications, interesting debates, and snappy character interplay – it’s Hard SF and I know that for some this may be a little esoteric. Yes, a little hard to read at times, but like a classic “literary” novel, it’s eminently worth the effort.

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