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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Outcasts Of Heaven Belt

Copyright 1978 by Joan D. Vinge

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Awful (1/5)

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 immediate whim 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.
Cover of The Outcasts Of Heaven Belt

Reviews of other works by Joan D. Vinge:
Worlds End
Tangled Up In Blue