The Colors of Space: An SF juvenile by MZB

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Colors of Space by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Colors of Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Bart Steele has been off at the Space Academy and hasn’t seen his father in years. When he goes to meet him at a Lhari space station, Mr. Steele never shows up. Instead, he sends an agent with a message for Bart. The Lhari, an intelligent alien race, suspect that Bart’s dad has stolen the secret of their warp drive. If so, this means humans will be able to manufacture their own warp drives and the Lhari will no longer have a monopoly on out-of-system space travel. The Lhari are trying to hunt down Mr. Steele and Bart is in danger, too.

Off goes Bart to try to find his father and his father’s secrets. All he knows is that the secret to the Lhari space drive has something to do with an eighth color that humans have never seen before (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s science is a little off here. Well, a lot off, but let’s just ignore that, shall we? Because the idea is so lovely, even if it’s scientifically ridiculous. I don’t want to be Professor Party Pooper.).

The Colors of Space is a lot like one of the Heinlein Juveniles I read as a kid. The story is simple, Bart is a competent and likeable fellow and, although there is some grief for Bart, the story comes to a sweet, if predictable, end. There is just a bit of appropriate social commentary about the warlike nature of humans and some lovely imagery as Bart contemplates the beautiful colors of space. (I won’t mention again about the scientific implausibility of that.)

I listened to Jim Roberts narrate the CD version of The Colors of Space that Brilliance Audio has recently released (it’s been available at Audible since 2010). Roberts isn’t the best reader, but he gives the book an old-fashioned feel that I liked in this case. The Colors of Space is five hours long on audio and is appropriate for any age. You can get a free version for Kindle, then you can buy the Audible edition with Whispersync for only $2.99. (Please don’t tell Brilliance Audio that I told you this. It was nice of them to send me a free copy of The Colors of Space to review.)

In The Colors of Space, young Bart Steele, Space Academy graduate, is waiting in a spaceport for a ship to take him home when something happens that suddenly thrusts him into the center of a quest for the secret of interstellar travel. The method of faster than light travel, called “warp drive” in later Sci-Fi stories, is a tightly kept secret of an alien race known as the “Lhari.” Some humans feel that they should not have to depend on the Lhari to get to far away planets and enlist Bart to help them wrest the secret from the Lhari by undertaking a perilous mission. Bart’s survival and the freedom of the human race suddenly depend on his courage and wits.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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