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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

worst narration ever

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

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • Raleigh, NC USA
  • 05-13-18

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent Performance

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character was Charles Reymont. He's tough as nails and by the book; but can still show compassion and tact in the most dire of circumstances.

Which character – as performed by Neil Hellegers – was your favorite?

The inflection in Mr. Hellegers' voice really brought the character of Charles Reymont to life and made me feel engaged with the character in every scene he was in.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to half the book in one sitting while on a trip, and listened to the rest in chapter increments during my work day. It was a nice escape to the far reaches of the galaxy on my lunch breaks.

Any additional comments?

I would categorize this book as Hard Sci-Fi. There were many time when there would be long explanations of the math/science that while essential to the people in the story, it isn't really needed for the reader. Mr. Hellegers' performance was outstanding! The ease in which he switches between different character voices, especially in fast paced arguments, makes you forget that it's only one man reading the book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Impossible to listen to

I really wanted to listen to this book. Poul Anderson is an outstanding writer and I have never read this one. The concept is one that has always fascinated me and...well...I was EAGER to hit play...

And...almost at once...I was eager to hit "stop"

The narrator seems to be trying to make every word breathy and full of adventure...which is fine when it fits the story...but not EVERYWHERE.

I tried, I really tried, but nope. So, this might be a 5 star story, but until I get the time to sit down and read it myself, I'll never know. I gave it a 3 because, hey, Poul Anderson has to be good for that on his worst days.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrible narration

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Breathless, but not in a good way

I was actually referred to this book by a reference in Michio Kaku's Parallel Worlds. I love this story, but the narrator had a very distracting mannerism of ending every single sentence breathlessness. He reminded me of the way Orson Welles talked. The book as a whole is still worth 5 stars though, which says something about how interesting the concepts discussed were.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • 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.