The Void Captain's Tale Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Void Captain's Tale

The Void Captain's Tale begins drily enough, a nice description of the infancy of warp space drive in which the only persons foolhardy enough to attempt such travel, are the lifestyles of the rich and famous. It is also the pentultimate in "heroics" as it symbolises human mastery over the universe that is forever expanding. It is Humanity's shining hour; it is humanity's Raison d'etre. Genro, the Captain of the pleasure and luxury liner, has erroneously met his Void Pilot in dry dock, which turns out to be his undoing, as the Void Pilots are always the unknown members of the complement. Their job, is to be literally inserted into the circuit that will allow the ship to jump x number of warps, making interstellar travel possible. Most Void Pilots come from the ranks of addicts, in which warp jumping becomes their new drug. Most are incorherent, mad things, making it irrelevent is ANYONE knows who they are. Genro's Void Pilot is the illusive Dominique Alia Woo. She is a void pilot by default as she was a passenger, on a ship whose pilot had died in mid-jump. As the ship had become derelict in deep space, the Captain went among the passengers to find a volunteer to jump the ship back to safety. Domonique manages the impossible, a blind jump which saves the ship from certain doom, afterwhich, she is hopelessly addicted to her job, having actually glimpsed Those Who Had Gone Before. Captain Genro begins a sick obsession with Domonique, odd in that by the third jump, she begins to resemble a patient with advance Aids. She can't stand him, threatening to go on strike. He neglects his duties shamefully, that even his Domo(cruise director) is miffed. She seemed suspiciosly similar to Star Trek's very own Nichelle Nichols. In the end, Genro is so sick with obsession, that he forgets to perform the last dump, and Domonique dies in mid jump, jumping the ship into Lord Only Knows Where, leaving Genro to go among the passengers to search a volunteer to jump the ship back to safety.
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The review of this Book prepared by NeonMercury

Tor, Sep 2001, 12.95, 222 pp.
ISBN: 0312868251

    Dragon Zephyr Void Captain Genro Kane Gupta delivers goods and passengers to Estrella Bonita. During a stop Genro meets beautiful Dominique Alia Wu. The woman is a shocker because she is a jump pilot. Everyone knows that jump pilots are physically wasted, as they are the keys to interstellar jumps that each time kills them a little more. This makes Dominique an enigma.

    Dominique asks Genro to jump blind. His failing to set the proper navigational mix will free her so that she lands in eternal ecstasy inside the Void. Fascinated by her, he leans towards neglecting his duty to his crew, passengers and himself because no one knows what will happen if a ship jumps blind.

    Though at times the use of “modern vernacular” slows down the story line because the reader needs time to interpret, THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE remains a strong science fiction novel.   The theme compares sexual prowess with power and the hold that sexual needs have on humans (Freud must have been a passenger on the Dragon Zephyr). The tale is different, but works on several levels because readers can feel the magnetic tension between the Void Captain and the Void Pilot. First released in the 1980s Norman Spinrad's novel still spins quite a tale.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of The Void Captain's Tale

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 40% FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Explore:    -   dimension travel--general    -   lost in spaceship Romance    -   Yes Lifeform altered?    -   Yes Kind of alteration:    -   Given added abilities Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   navy soldier    -   fighter (air/space) pilot Age:    -   20's-30's    -   40's-50's If magical mental powers:    -   mind reading    -   is very quick    -   can read emotions


Terrain    -   Space, need spacesuit Spaceship setting:    -   futuristic human warship    -   someone is depressurized    -   futuristic human freighter/transport    -   really, really giant spaceship/station Takes place in spaceship?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   a fair amount of scientific explanation    -   quite a lot of techical jargon Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Norman Spinrad Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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