- Meredith, Martin — The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (736 pages)
- Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o — Wizard of the Crow (766 pages)
- Coetzee, J.M. — Life & Times of Michael K (182 pages)
- Saint-Exupery, Antoine de — The Little Prince (101 pages)
- Brunner, John — Stand on Zanzibar (661 pages)
- Dahl, Roald — Fantastic Mr Fox (79 pages)
- Walker, Barbara — TEENY-TINY and the Witch-Woman (29 pages)
- Shakespeare, William — A Midsummer Night's Dream (23 pages)
- Powers, Richard — The Time of Our Singing (631 pages)
- McEwan, Ian — In Between the Sheets (134 pages)
- Ishiguro, Kazuo — A Pale View of Hills (182 pages)
- Niven, Larry — Ringworld (284 pages)
- Anderson, Poul — Tau Zero (184 pages)
Page count: 3992.
Now, this is what "hard" science fiction ought to be like!
Where Mission of Gravity, Ringworld, or other so-called "hard" sci-fi novels failed, Tau Zero succeeds. The science is engaging, the story seems plausible, and the characters are engaging.
I admit I don't know much about relativity or physics in general. I've read a few books aimed at the layman and took a course called "Physics for Non-Physics Majors," and that's about it. I suspect theories have evolved, based on new data, since 1970. I wouldn't know. The science in this book seemed to hold up. At no point that I can discern does Anderson have to resort to pseudoscience. Sure, a couple of times he has his characters admit that they don't know for sure what will happen, for after all nobody has travelled so close to the speed of light before, and until they're put to the test in actual conditions theories remain just theories. But that's different from, say, the device Larry Niven uses to get around the laws of physics in having a character declare that they have different theories.
I loved the fact that Anderson got all geeky on us with the relativity but still sketched real, believable characters and situations. And he clearly has a sense of humour, as when he has a character exclaim, "We can't go on … having regular bowel movements … while creation happens!" This made Tau Zero so much more enjoyable than other "hard" sci-fi I've read. I look forward to reading more of Anderson's work.