Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Plague Ship by Andre Norton

Source: Librivox
Length: 7 hr, 4 min
Reader: Mark Nelson

The book: Plague Ship reads like two separate short books, joined by characters and universe, but with completely different local settings and plots. In the first half, the crew of the independent trading ship Solar Queen have to outwit and outfight the representatives of a rival company to gain trading rights for the planet Sargol. The inhabitants of Sargol are a feline race with a tribal culture and the Solar Queen's crew must gain their trust to make this trading venture a success. In the second half of the book, the crew heads home to Earth. One by one crew members begin to fall ill from a mysterious ailment. The remaining spacemen know that unless they discover the cause of the disease, they will be branded as a plague ship, unable to dock at any port for fear of an outbreak in the general population.

This book was published in 1956, one year before Sputnik was launched. The pre-spaceflight innocence shows in some plot holes. Even though hundreds of rocket ships take off every day from Earth in the book, neither they nor any satellites notice that a presumed desert wasteland is actually a verdant jungle. Other anachronisms make it clear that this is historical science fiction. Taken as such, Plague Ship is an enjoyable light novel with plenty of adventure.

Rating: 6/10

The reader: Mark Nelson is an excellent reader. His voice is clear and masculine with a wholesome sound. The recording is noiselessly clean. Nelson adds in a little laser-beam sound effect after the Librivox disclaimer. It's silly, but it shows that he really cares about the product he's producing and giving away. For more of his readings, check out "Call of Cthulhu" and Right Ho, Jeeves.


wolfkahn said...

Welcome back!

Felbrigg said...

This is an excellent listen. Any fan of classic sci fi should listen to this. Immediately!