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Orbitsville (Gollancz SF collector's edition)

Orbitsville (Gollancz SF collector's edition) [Kindle Edition]

Bob Shaw
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

In 1960, scientist Freeman Dyson suggested that advanced alien civilizations would rebuild their solar systems into "Dyson spheres" enclosing the sun and harnessing all its output. SF writers developed the idea: Larry Niven's Ringworld (1970) features a cut-down version while Bob Shaw's Orbitsville (1975) broods on the unimaginable vastness of the entire sphere whose inner surface has five billiontimes Earth's land area.

Shaw kick-starts his story with panicky intensity as starship commander Garamond, knowing he'll be blamed for the accidental death of his powerful(and unpleasant) employer Elizabeth Lindstrom's young son, goes on the run. He hijacks his own ship and heads for unexplored galactic regions... to discover this gigantic construction. There's a striking scene as he penetrates the single entrance's forcefield:

And there--on the edge of a circular lake of stars, suited and armoured to withstand the lethal vacuum of interplanetary space-Garamond had his first look at the green and infinite meadows of Orbitsville.

Before long the vengeful Lindstrom catches up, and a spectacularly pyrotechnic escape leaves Garamond's spaceship wrecked 15 million kilometres away from the human beachhead on Orbitsville. That's a tiny fraction of the 300 million kilometre diameter: the sphere's hugeness is emphasised as our hero's team doggedly builds a fleet of planes to be flown in shifts back to base, a journey that'll take three full years. A final nerve-tingling clash gives way to revelations--jolting but in retrospect inevitable--of Orbitsville's hidden purpose. One of the best novels by this popular British author. --David Langford

Book Description

'His finest early inspiration... An exciting story of political intrigue and exploration' The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 309 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway; New edition edition (29 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005HRT750
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #174,518 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Shaw 6 Sep 2004
In the first of a rare trilogy from Shaw he examines the theory of the Dyson sphere, a theoretical construction which is, as might be imagined, a sphere, but one which whose diameter is the same size as the orbit of the Earth. It is believed that such a sphere would be able to contain a star such as our own, and given sufficient orbital rotation, would provide a habitable area on the inner surface equal to several hundred million Earths.
Vance Garamond is a Starflight Captain reporting directly to Elizabeth Lindstrom, President of a starfaring society in which only one other habitable planet, Terranova, has been discovered. Earth is overcrowded and Lindstrom, a psychotic and psychopathic dictator, is parcelling up the new planet and selling strips of it off to the highest bidder.
While awaiting his audience with the President before a routine assignment Vance is asked to entertain her nine-year old son. Distracted by his thoughts, Vance does not see that the boy has climbed up into the arms of a statue and before he can react the boy falls and cracks his head on the pedestal, killing himself instantly.
Realising that his life is now forfeit when the borderline-insane Elizabeth discovers her son's death, Garamond collects his wife and young son and smuggles them aboard his spacecraft. Along with his crew they head out for the stars, knowing that their chances of finding a new habitable world and so being able to escape the President's wrath is minimal.
Garamond has one hope in that he has what amounts to a treasure map; ancient research consisting of a chronological series of alien stellar maps in which a star apparently disappears.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Hasn't This Been Filmed? 12 Sep 2000
By A Customer
You may well ask the same after reading this. I've not previously read any of Shaw's work, so this excellent novel, written in 1975, came as a surprise. Space exploration saga, fugitive epic, revenge thriller - the author manages to compress into 186 pages enough plot ideas to keep other writers going over at least three separate books. This novel hits the ground running and doesn't let up. Looming unimaginably vast over all these happenings is the titular creation - a concept previously used by Larry Niven but not on such an enormous scale.. Solid characterisations, and considerations given to the science behind the fiction elevate this book above mere space adventure. Victor Gollancz (or rather Orion Books) have reissued this in their yellow- jacketed SF Collectors series. Good thing too - although surely this is one book that is owed a gorgeous cover illustration?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary. 7 Dec 2001
This novel is beautiful, awesome and chilling all at once. It takes Mankind out of his narrow-minded provincial backwater. It shows him the Extraordinary and then turns him into something Other. When you take Shaw's profound imagination and nail it to a cast of carefully drawn characters and a thrilling plot, you are picked up and hurled bodily right into the centre of things. You will come away humbled, even turned into something Other. Read Orbitsville, and feel insignificant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Bob Shaw I've read 6 Dec 2011
By Behan
This is not the most original work of science fiction. If you have read Ringworld (S.F. Masterworks) you'll be amused by the similarities here; the titular artifacts in each book are, in some ways, so similar that Shaw can only be encouaging us to compare Ringworld and Orbitsville. Perhaps then, this is a parody, much like Pratchett's Strata? Maybe. There are certainly aspects that Shaw dwells over, which Ringworld was criticised by reviewers for missing out, such as believable female characters and some sensible explanation of what the big, silly, pivotal object was actually built for.
In this latter case, Shaw actually manages to formulate an appeailng answer, perhaps even the punchline that the whole book was written to set up; as this is made explicit only in the last revelation of the book, I won't spoil it.

The story itself is a fairly linear hard SF adventure with a sparse cast of characters that succeeds because of its breathless pace and a grandiosity that recalls Samuel R Delaney. What is particularly effective about this novel is that Shaw manages to maintain the sense of adventure at the same time as doing a lot of scene-setting and made-up science, a balancing act that better known writers have failed at, and he achieves with only a couple of wobbles.

There's no real surprises in the storyline; the lead character and villain are well-drawn but develop very little, the action reaches a couple of nice peaks of jeopardy, but our hero is too traditional to die easily. All in all, this isn't a book about theme or narrative. It's about the scientific concept and there's plenty here to amuse the hardest SF nut.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars orbitsville 27 Nov 2010
classic story. I first read this book some twentyfive years ago and it was just as good to read this time around. A classic tale of escapism on a grand scale.
Vance Garramond is a hero who is thrust into a situation he is struggling to control until events take a fantastic new twist in the form of Orbitsville,an artifact large enough to enclose a million suns.
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