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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Space between planets where you can breath? Yes!, 6 Aug. 2009
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
'A neat concept taken to a logical conclusion' would be a bald description of what is a rollicking good story. It is so well written, and drags you in its wake so fast, you don't have time to question the shaky science.

By keeping the technology deliberately low level, roughly equivalent to 18th-19th century Earth, Bob Shaw manages to keep it in the background to allow the story to flow unfettered.

Consider this; how would you expect people to travel between planets (believably) with such primitive technology? A hot air balloon perhaps?

The protagonists are sympathetic and believable, which makes a nice change from a lot of similar space opera. I pick my ancient copy off the shelf every now and then for a quick look, which always turns out to be a cover to cover read.

The two subsequent books in the trilogy, The Wooden Spaceships and The Fugitive Worlds take the story to a satisfactory finale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ragged Astronauts, 14 Sept. 2012
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
Take a late medieval world which orbits along with a twin planet. Add a native balloon-like creature the pthertha, which is regularly hunted for sport, and which reacts by unleashing a deadly plague. You have the ingredients for interplanetary travel!
The twin planets are so close that there are two periods of daytime on the inhabited world, and a short night in between, with a longer night at the other end. There is a thin envelope of air, it turns out, linking the two planets, and if someone were to go up in a hot-air balloon he could just about cross over to the other world. But is the journey survivable and could an entire population be evacuated?
This first book in the series is definitely the best. The second, The Wooden Spaceships, deals with large-scale population movement and colonisation. Really Shaw could have left it at that but perhaps he was pushed into writing a trilogy. The Fugitive Worlds is readable but not so good or credible.
Bob Shaw was a Northern Irish writer who was a contemporary and friend of James White and Brian W Aldiss.
I consider his best work to be Other Days, Other Eyes, which is about slow glass.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Sci Fi, 4 Jan. 2013
By 
Stuart Burton (Lancashire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
I read this book many years ago loved it and never forgot it. I searched it out on Amazon and ordered the 3 books in the Ragged Astronauts series. I was worried that when I started reading the series it wouldnt be as good as I remembered from so many years ago. When I started it was a relief to find that the books were just as good as I remembered if not better, I read all three books in a week and they now have pride of place on my bookshelf.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and enjoyable, 18 July 2003
By 
W. Robinson "Big Bill Robinson" (Slough, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
Bob Shaw is well-known for writing SF which is solid entertainment rather than being highly-technical. The Ragged Astronauts certainly delivers a thoroughly satisfying mix of vivid characters and high adventure. Please note that this book is the first part of a trilogy. Part 2 is called The Wooden Spaceships, and Part 3 is called The Fugitive Worlds.
In The Ragged Astronauts, Land and Overland are twin planets, orbiting one another as well as their star. Unfortunately on Land, things look grim. The environment is being damaged by over-exploitation, and diseases are spreading. The people are forced to consider radical ideas for their survival. One person has the idea of flying to Overland by hot-air balloon. Of course, no-one believes him....
This splendid book, filled with rip-roaring adventure and huge happenings, ranks amongst Bob Shaw's best, and I recommend it to all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment, 20 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
The Ragged Astronauts - file under fantasy/science fiction - (first of a 3 book series) by the late N. Ireland-born Bob Shaw is quite simply massive entertainment and impeccably readable, with great characters and imaginative scenarios that stay in the mind long after finishing. Read this and you'll certainly want to read the others in the series. Also enjoyed Orbitsville from the same writer.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balloon adventures... in space!, 16 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
On a world in a different universe to our own, rival kingdoms battle for supremacy, but a deadly plague, the pterthacosisis, is wiping out the population. The only hope of survival is for the rapidly diminishing group of unaffected to flee and start fresh. But the only potential place for sanctuary is an unexplored sister planet, and it's thousands of miles away across space and seemingly out of reach for a people whose technology is broadly at the stage earth's was in the 17th century. Then a scientist has the great idea to build a giant airship and sail there...

All Bob Shaw's strengths are displayed here: an ingenious and innovative story line, believable characters who you can care about, and gleefully implausible plot twists that you can happily accept without too much worry. In this case the implausibility comes from the fact that space travel between planets is possible by balloon. This unusual premise is unlike most other Bob Shaw plot twists in which the scientific explanation usually only goes to add weight to just how implausible the idea is. No explanation is, very wisely, offered other than a reference to pi having a value of 3 in this universe.

With no time wasted on the science, more time is left for the rip-roaring adventure and that makes this yarn entertaining and one that is well worth reading. Whether the whole trilogy is worth reading is debatable as towards the end of the second book Shaw starts to lose interest in the tale, and he definitely pushes the idea too far in the third book. A short balloon trip through space is just about acceptable if you're willing to suspend your disbelief, but regular interplanetary travel and warfare in wooden spaceships takes some swallowing.
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Ragged Astronauts
Ragged Astronauts by Bob Shaw (Paperback - May 1988)
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