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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
King David's Spaceship

Copyright 1980 by Jerry Pournelle

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (2/5)

I first read this in 1982 and most recently on the 2nd August 2002.

A ship of the Imperial Navy has arrived on Prince Samuel's World. Its mission is to bring this old First Empire colony back into the fold of the CoDominium Empire, the second empire.

Prince Samuel's world is primitive, perhaps at the level of Earth's eighteenth century. It'll be taken into the new empire as a colony, with no representation or power in the CoDominium government, to be ruled over by colonists sent from the Empire.

Malcolm Dougal is the head of King David's secret service. He's politically aware enough to understand that the empire's plans bode badly for the fate of his country, indeed his world, and he is determined to do anything, pay any price, to preserve his world and his culture.

Finally, a hope presents itself. If they were a space-traveling world, they could gain a respected position within the Empire, rather than being a simple colony ripe for exploitation.

So Dougal determines to build a spaceship.

Prince Samuel's world has no hope of achieving this within the necessary timeframe. They have no electronics, no radio, no nuclear power, no hope of understanding the theory of FTL. Dougal determines to steal the required knowledge from another world. Of course, it's a hopeless quest, but it's the only hope they have.

For this he'll need the resources of the entire world united under his King, vast and secret research projects struggling to get to grips with Imperial technology. he'll also need Colonel Nathan MacKinnie and Freelady Mary Graham.

If you're interested in the history of technology and it's role in cultural development, and if you'd prefer to read about in the form of an SF novel, then this is the book for you. Well, it may not actually be the book for you, but if you enjoy the military campaigns, monarchies, sexism and women's liberation, slaughter of innocents and space travel, then this might be. I think it's the best of Jerry's solo books, but that's probably because it feels more like a (mediocre) Niven-Pournelle collaboration, and speaking of which, the novel takes place concurrently with "The Mote in God's Eye".

Loaded on the 19th August 2002.
    
Cover of King David's Spaceship