Colors of Space
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by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Category: Science Fiction/Young Adult
Description: Bart Steele has just graduated from the Academy and qualified as an Astrogator. Instead of getting a berth on a human ship, however, he disguises himself as an alien Lhari and signs on to one of their ships, risking his life to break the Lhari's monopoly on intergalactic travel by finding out what element is missing from human attempts to copy the Lhari's star drive.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1963
eBookwise Release Date: August 2008
51 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [211 KB]
Reading time: 129-181 min.
"This is an interesting and charming story that holds up by today's standards. It has the same hopefulness that the original Star Trek gave us--that someday we could learn to be better than we seem to be now and that we could join a community in the stars in peace."--David W. Griffin
Should he take a chance--reveal himself to Tommy and ask him to keep quiet? No. This wasn't a game. One man was already dead. He didn't want Tommy to be next.
There was only one way out. He said coldly, "Thank you, but I have other things to attend to. I intend to be very busy all through the voyage." He spun on his heel and walked away before he could see Tommy's eager, friendly smile turn hurt and defensive.
Back in his cabin, he gloomily dialed some synthetic jellies, thinking with annoyance of the anticipated good food of the dining room. He knew he couldn't risk meeting Tommy again, and drearily resigned himself to staying in his cabin. It looked like an awfully boring trip ahead.
It was a week before the Lhari ship went into warp-drive, and all that time Bart stayed in his cabin, not daring to go to the observation Lounge or dining hall. He got tired of eating synthetics (oh, they were nourishing enough, but they were altogether uninteresting) and tired of listening to the tapes the room steward got him from the ship's library. By the time they had been in space a week, he was so bored with his own company that even the Mentorian medic was a welcome sight when he came in to prepare him for cold-sleep.
Bart had had the best education on Earth, but he didn't know precisely how the Lhari warp-drive worked. He'd been told that only a few of the Lhari understood it, just as the man who flew a copter didn't need to understand Newton's Three Laws of Motion in order to get himself back and forth to work.
But he knew this much; when the ship generated the frequencies which accelerated it beyond the speed of light, in effect the ship went into a sort of fourth dimension, and came out of it a good many light-years away. As far as Bart knew, no human being had ever survived warp-drive except in the suspended animation which they called cold-sleep. While the medic was professionally reassuring him and strapping him in his bunk, Bart wondered what humans would do with the Lhari star-drive if they had it. Well, he supposed they could use automation in their ships.
The Mentorian paused, needle in hand. "Do you wish to be wakened for the week we shall spend in each of the Proxima, Sirius and Pollux systems, sir? You can, of course, be given enough drug to keep you in cold-sleep until we reach the Procyon system."
Bart wondered if the room steward had mentioned the passenger so bored with the trip that he didn't even visit the Observation Lounge. He felt tempted--he was getting awfully tired of staring at the walls, and he wanted very much to see the other star-systems. When he passed through them on the trip to Earth, he'd been too young to pay much attention.
Firmly he put the temptation aside. Better not to risk meeting other passengers, Tommy especially, if he decided he couldn't take the boredom.
The needle went into his arm. He felt himself sinking into sleep, and, in sudden panic, realized that he was helpless. The ship would touch down on three worlds, and on any of them the Lhari might have his description, or his alias! He could be taken off, drugged and unconscious, and might never wake up! He tried to move, to protest, to tell them he was changing his mind, but already he was unable to speak. There was a freezing moment of intense, painful cold. Then he was floating in what felt like waves of cosmic dust, swirling many-colored before his eyes. And then there was nothing, no color, nothing at all except the nowhere night of sleep.