The Outcasts Of Heaven Belt
Copyright 1978 by
I first read this on the 11th April 2003.
The colony on Morningside has been successful, but growth is slow.
The colonists believe that trade with the fabulously wealthy Heaven Belt
would provide the desired economic boost.
However, when the first trading ship, the Ranger, arrives at Heavens
Belt it finds no fabulous ruches, no advanced and sophisticated civilisation.
Heaven Belt has collapsed into three separate
aggressive and grasping cultures, each with its strict ideology and
each incapable of negotiating with its neighbours.
There is the communist Grand Harmony whose citizens serve as computing
engines in the endless but essential task of calculating
the trajectories of the asteroids of Heaven Belt. Finally there is
the extreme democracy of the Demarchy, where government serves only the
of the populace. Finally there are the Materialists, all those who remain
of Lansing, once the glorious capital of Heaven Belt. Now they struggle to
survive, genetically-damaged outcasts slowly dying of radiation poisoning.
Two crew, Betha Torgussen and her senior husband Clewell "Pappy" Welkin,
survive a vicious attack by the forces of Harmony. Next the Materialists
attempt to hijack their craft. Finally the Demarchist government attempts
to seize their spacecraft.
Still, competent Betha Torgussen will lead a firm but fair way through the
crises and save both herself and Pappy, and Heaven Belt in the process.
This was Joan D. Vinge's first published novel, based on a series originally
published in Analog magazine. One can see, with the benefit of hindsight
at least, that there is more depth, more style and intelligence then one
might expect for this simple space adventure. The characters of Bird Alyn
the Materialist, Wadie Abdhiamal, the
negotiator for Demarchy and Raul Nakamore, the Hand of Harmony are creditably drawn.
I was a tad disappointed by the resolution of Shadow Jack and Bird Alyn's
relationship, although I can't for the live of me, and only two weeks
later, remember what that resolution was.
Loaded on the 1st June 2003.