Ship of Strangers

By Bob Shaw

Rating: 3 stars

The men of the Cartographical Service are always on the edge of known space, travelling to new worlds and mapping the ever-expanding surface of the Bubble of the Human Federation. Dave Surgenor is one of the few people who lasts beyond his original five-year contract, becoming one of the most experienced hands on the survey ship Sarafand.

This book is structured into a bunch of disparate adventures of the crew of the Sarafand with several recurring characters but it’s really Surgenor and the ship itself that are the protagonists. It feels like several related short stories have been linked together, since there’s little connecting each set-piece, but I don’t really have a problem with this and enjoyed seeing how the crew solves each of the problems it faces, from sending out six survey modules and getting seven back to facing a time-travelling species on a dead world.

The title refers to the idea that although there are only twelve crew on survey ships, they never become intimate with each other, remaining “wilful strangers”, jumping from planet to planet and never settling down.

An enjoyable book from a pretty solid author.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575043312
Year of publication: 1978

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