Help me remember the name of this book?
June 28, 2010 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify this novel that I read as a teenager?

So I've been trying to figure out the name of this sci fi novel for ages. I read it back in the early nineties, borrowing it from a surprisingly ample Science fiction section of a beach town library. I remember a surprisingly large number of details, such as:

* While the book is in English, the characters are all really speaking Spanish.
* The ships are spheres, and they split in half with tethers and spin to provide gravity when not under thrust.
* The main method of travelling through space is to use a network of satellites that transport ships across the universe. The ships choose their destination by flying past beacons in a certain way before reaching the transporter, and the beacons are each marked by their own color--red, blue, green, down to radio waves and up to ultraviolet.
* Humanity only has the coordinates for one or two systems, but this one captain decides she (I think?) will try and find whatever race built the network.

I don't remember it being a particularly good book, but it's always irked me that I can't remember who wrote it or what it's called. The details I have are not particularly google-ble, either.

Some other details:
* I think the novel is from the 70s, though it could have been from the 80s, I suppose.
* I read it in hardcover.
* Returning to the library recently, they didn't have it anymore.
* I thought Poul Anderson wrote it, but it doesn't seem to match anything in his bibliography.

Any help in tracking this book down would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
posted by thecaddy to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ah hmm, I was going to guess it was by Harry Harrison, due to his notable fondness for Esperanto. But I'm not finding anything in his bibliography that seems to match your description.
posted by ErikaB at 6:36 PM on June 28, 2010

I can't think of anything that directly qualifies, but I frequently mix up Frederick Pohl and Poul Anderson, if that gives you any leads.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2010

Heh, I came in to suggest that it might be Frederick Pohl, too, as I've often made the same mistake. Pohl had a huge number of spacey SF books in the 70s.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:40 PM on June 28, 2010

I think the generic term for the spinning spheres that provide gravity is "Dyson Spheres." This page lists numerous works of fiction that rely on them... maybe that will spark your memory.
posted by carmicha at 7:50 PM on June 28, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, for a while I actually thought it was Gateway, but no dice.
posted by thecaddy at 7:50 PM on June 28, 2010

Dyson spheres are actually huge spherical artifacts completely englobing a star so as to absorb all of its energy for a civilization's use --- said civilization generally residing on the inside surface of the sphere. So they'd be immensely bigger than a single star ship. Think of Larry Niven's Ringworld, but a sphere.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:25 AM on June 29, 2010

Guy_Inamonkeysuit: "Dyson spheres are actually huge spherical artifacts completely englobing a star so as to absorb all of its energy for a civilization's use"

Note that Dyson spheres are not necessarily solid, ball-like structures. In fact, Dyson specifically thought those were impossible.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: So my dependence on Wikipedia has proven to be a terrible weakness. Turns out that it was Poul Anderson--a book called The Avatar--that didn't have its own summary on the site.

Took a ridiculously complex search on google books to find it, as well as bad afternoon where I was impelled to find it no matter what. Thanks all for your time.
posted by thecaddy at 5:20 PM on November 17, 2010

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