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.
This report prepared by NeonMercury
Tor, Sep 2001, 12.95, 222 pp.
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.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner