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Publisher's Summary

This science fiction novel describes the epic voyage of the spacecraft Leonora Christine, which will take a 40-strong crew to a planet some 30 light years distant.

From practically the very first minute, Tau Zero sets scientific realities in dramatic tension with the very real emotional and psychological states of the travelers, exploring the effect of time contraction due to traveling at near-light speed on the human psyche. This tension is a dynamic that Anderson explores with great success over the course of the novel, as 50 crewmembers settle in for the long journey together. While they are a highly trained team of scientists and researchers and therefore professionals, they are also a community of individuals, each of them trying to create for him or herself a life in a whole new space - or, literally, in space.

It isn't long, however, before the voyage takes a turn for the worse. The ship passes through a small, uncharted nebula that makes it impossible to decelerate the ship. Their only hope is to do the opposite and speed up. But acceleration towards and within the speed of light means that time outside the spaceship passes even more rapidly, sending the crew deeper into space and further into an unknown future.

©2016 Poul Anderson (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Tau Zero

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not What I Hoped For

I had to take some time and let my mind digest this audiobook, I felt kinda blah about it in general and wanted to hone in on exactly why because it’s a well-written story. I really enjoy science fiction and especially the space opera genre, but for me there just wasn’t enough action to keep me engaged and it’s disappointing to me because the synopsis gave me high hopes.

This book is really a study in relationships among the crew of spaceship Leonora Christine, which is fine, but not what I’m looking for in my SciFi, I kept thinking, okay let’s get to the action and the more I listened the more I realized it wasn’t going to happen at least not to the degree I wanted or expected.

The audiobook is narrated by Neil Hellegers, and I thought he did a great job narrating! He fully voiced a wide variety characters in this book, no small feat and how can you not love a narrator who can carry a tune? The sound quality of this audiobook was average, there’s something clarity wise in the production that’s just a tad off, and makes the narrator sound winded. I listened to other samples of the narrator's work and this was not an issue. It’s specific to this audiobook and I look forward to hearing more from this narrator.

This audiobook was gifted to me exchange for an unbiased review!

14 people found this helpful

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Narration as torture?

I'm ~30 minutes in (only the second chapter) and I'm not sure I can go on, solely due to the narration. I find it really bizarre. Someone else put it well: it sounds like he's out of breath with every sentence. To me, it sounds like he's stuck on 11 all the time. Every single sentence is spoken with all the gravity and urgency of being the last thing ever said before the world ends. I find it very distracting/annoying. I can't imagine anyone speaking this way intentionally, except to portray comedically hyperbolic overacting. I haven't heard any other narrations by Neil Hellegers, so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe his audio engineer or director for this performance just kept telling him to make everything sound as severe/grave as possible.

10 people found this helpful

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worst narration ever

good story destroyed by the worst narration imaginable. buy the book and avoid this narrator.

12 people found this helpful

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Interesting story spoiled by the reader

The halting and pressured cadence of the reader was a constant distraction, making it difficult to become immersed in the story. I'm struggling but determined to finish. No disrespect intended to the reader, but just a suggestion to read in a less frenetic manner.

11 people found this helpful

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Hard Sci Fi at an epic scale

This book blew my mind a bit. At first the humans were not the most interesting characters, it was instead the ship that caught my interest. As the story progressed I began to care about the people while the ship remained the star of the book. Very rich in details and epic in scale, extremely scientific feeling read. The performance was wonderful as well.

7 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

I was expecting more from such an accomplished author. Not worth the time I spent on it.

2 people found this helpful

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almost unlistenable

the jerking narration makes this book all but impossible to finish. wish I had quit early as the story was a flop. completely unrealistic look at the sociological aspects of deep time and closed societies.

2 people found this helpful

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I did not care about the characters

The premise of the story is alright, but I couldn't care less about the characters. Nothing happens in the story to care about. You just get random announcements that something else went wrong. I got the book on sale for $5 and I still think I paid to much.

2 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed book but not narrator

The narrator speaks in an odd tone, jumpy, and too fast to catch story details. While I somewhat became used to it, I found myself concentrating on understanding the narrators words instead of the underlying story.

10 people found this helpful

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Terrible narration

The narration is so bad I couldn’t get past the first half-hour. This is one of my favorite books too.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 04-02-20

How to salvage this great story

This is a great story, horribly read!
The narrator is going for some rushed teeth-clenshed angry approach, giving the impression that every single sentence ends in an exclamation mark and all characters are just a breath away from a rampant murder spree.
This is one of my favourite SciFi stories, but the narration was like nails on a blackboard for me.
HOWEVER!
if you bring the speed down to 0.9, or maybe even 0.8, it actually becomes pretty decent (leading me to ponder if the original upload might have been made at a wrong tempo setting).

So if you do decide to give this book a try (and it really is a great story if you're more inclined towards technical rather than action-packed SciFi), be aware that you'll have to do some initial tinkering to get it right.

1 person found this helpful

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  • dave
  • 07-27-19

Worst narrator ever

I was looking forward to this but couldn't get past a chapter or so as the narrator was so so bad. It sounds like he recorded each line individually and the end of each sentence finished weirdly abruptly. I never leave reviews and love audible and Sci fi but this drove me crazy!!! Please re record so I can listen to what seems to be a really interesting story! The author would be furious if he heard this narration

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 09-04-21

Listen to the sample narration before you purchase

I am unable to listen to this book due to the awful narration. It totally ruins the novel. If it was a mechanical device like a fridge and it performed as poorly, you would demand your money back as the item was defective. The telling of a story is not just reading words through gritted teeth pretending you are a 1950s private eye with a predilection for speaking in clipped Al Pacino short sentences and no emotion.

Avoid this version of the book is my only advice :(

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  • Sharon Barron
  • 10-23-20

The scope of this novel is enormous

From one of the Grand Masters of Science Fiction is a story of the rebirth of the universe. It feels a bit dated, especially in terms of the personal relationships, but it is a MUST READ for any serious SciFi fan.

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  • Mr. Matthew Holmes
  • 08-02-20

awful narrator

very very disappointed with the narrator of this great scifi, makes this audiobook unlistenable,

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • C
  • 08-21-19

the narration ruins it

get the book. a must read novel. but the narration is crap, terrible sorry no appalling.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M Bruce - Roberts
  • 01-29-19

love the book but not narrator

I love this book, I have read it many times so I thought I would enjoy it on audible. However I find the narrator very hard to listen to. except when doing character voices he reads every sentence in a questioning tone, inflecting up at the end like its exciting, the problem is it almost makes it monotone, since if every sentence is exciting then none are and I find the action is therefore passing me by.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr Matthew D Lowe
  • 10-23-18

Awful narration

I was really looking forward to listening to this story as I found the concept highly interesting. However, I couldn’t finish it due to the very poor narration. The diction was terrible and the narrator sounded like he was having breathing difficulties. The author has really been let down.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Dr Stephen P Lowis
  • 01-03-17

disappointing on all levels

Narration poor. over emphasis of each sentence made me lose interest easily.
The story hangs on a single concept, which is interesting but not enough for a novel. a short story at best.
Poor characterization.

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  • Peter C
  • 11-10-16

Great hard SF - narrator style very odd

This is a great story from a master with study of the human condition combined with some hard science (of 40 years ago I admit but relativity has not changed that much).

The narrator however alternated from good, when relating actual conversation, to annoying when narrating storyline. His word inflexion focused on a breathy uplift at the end of each sentence which seemed to be trying to achieve "awesome SF suspense" at all times. It trivialised the true suspense moments and made it hard to appreciate some of the human experience parts of the book. It almost made me stop listening but as the Tau wound down I got engrossed enough in the story to manage to ignore it.

At least there were very few edit errors in this which we find in many of the audible books with lower production values.

So - enjoyed the story, narration could have been better.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-25-20

Can't get past chapter 1. Horribly narrated.

Can't comment on the story, just need to let people and Audible know they should re-record this. It's so hard to listen to. Every sentence ends in a almost dramatic pause like it's the most important in the whole novel.
It's a shame because I'd have liked to get through this one. I hope that this was just a bad reading by Neil and not everything else he narrates.

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  • William
  • 06-05-17

Good scifi bad narration

The exploration of scientific concepts was great and easily grasped, and by far the most enjoyable part of the book. Very few stretches of the imagination required to accept the story. Unfortunately the narration was poor and the characters were unengaging.