Sargasso of Space
- "The Sargasso of Space" is also the title of a 1931 sf novelette by Edmond Hamilton
Cover of the edition
|Cover artist||Ed Emshwiller|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Followed by||Plague Ship|
Sargasso of Space is a science fiction novel by author Andrew North (pseudonym of Alice Mary Norton, also known as Andre Norton). It was published in 1955 by Gnome Press in an edition of 4,000 copies.
Fresh out of Training Pool, a trade school for spaceship crews, Dane Thorson discovers that his first assignment as apprentice-Cargo Master puts him on Solar Queen, a Free Trader: basically an interstellar tramp freighter. At the end of Dane’s first flight the ship’s captain gains an opportunity to bid on a planet newly opened for possible trade and the crew goes all in to get the contract for a planet named Limbo. The information on the planet, which comes with the contract, does not look promising, but things look up a bit when a team of archaeologists hires Solar Queen to take them to Limbo.
On Limbo the archaeologists set up camp in the ruins of a Forerunner town, a trace of the people who ran a galactic empire long before humans ventured into space and who had wiped themselves out in an interstellar war. Dane and four others go exploring, to try to find intelligent life and potential trade goods. One of the group, Ali Kamil, disappears, apparently kidnapped by people using alien technology.
Spooked, a group including Dane goes to the ruins to check up on the archaeologists and finds that they have disappeared. Suspicion has them return to Solar Queen by an alternate route and they begin to find wrecked spaceships, some from thousands of years previous, that show signs of having been looted. Approaching their landing site, they find Solar Queen under siege by pirates and they discern that the archaeologists are part of the pirate gang.
While watching their ship from cover, Dane and his companions capture a pirate and invade the pirates’ underground base. There they find Forerunner technology still operating. In particular, they see two of the pirates operating a machine that draws in spaceships and crashes them on the planet. They also see signals indicating that one of the pirates’ own ships is being pursued by a Stellar Patrol cruiser.
Dane and his companions shut down the Forerunner base as the Patrol ship approaches and then try to fight their way out of the base. As the Solar Queen's crew engages the pirates in a blaster battle, the Patrol comes in and rescues them, putting a complete end to the pirates’ operation.
The Patrol insists that Solar Queen's crew give up their contract for Limbo, due to Forerunner artifacts, but they are allowed to take over the contract of one of the pirates’ victims, for trade with a planet called Sargol.
- 1955, USA, Gnome Press, Pub date 1955 May, Hardback (185 pp)
- 1956, Germany, Hönne/Gebrüder Zimmermann (Hönne Utopia-Spitzenklasse #3), Catalog #547, Hardback (255 pp), as Die Raumschiff-Falle (The Spaceship Trap)
- 1957, USA, Ace Books (Ace Double #D-249), Paperback (192 pp), combined with The Cosmic Puppets (Philip K. Dick, 127 pp)
- 1958, Germany, Pabel Verlag (Utopia Grossband #064), Pub date 1958 Jan, Paperback (96 pp), as Die Raumschiff-Falle (The Spaceship Trap)
- 1960, France, Ditis Science Fiction (#161), Pub date 1960 Apr, Paperback (188 pp), as Les naufrageurs de l’espace (The Wreckers of Space)
- 1963, Germany, Pabel Verlag (Utopia Grossband #202), Paperback (79 pp), as Gefangen auf Limbo (Caught on Limbo)
- 1964, USA, Ace Books (#F-279), Paperback (192 pp)
- 1969, USSR, Mir (Zarubezhnaya Fantastika), Paperback (228 pp), as Саргассы в Космосе (Sargasso in Space)
- 1970, UK, Gollancz, ISBN 0-575-00516-5, Pub date 1970 Feb, Hardback (191 pp)
- 1971, USA, Ace Books (#74981), Pub date 1971 Jun, Paperback (188 pp)
- 1972, Germany, Boje (Boje-Weltraumabenteuer), ISBN 3-414-12710-5, Hardback (219 pp), as Der unheimliche Planet (The Eerie Planet)
- 1975, USA, Ace Books (#74983), Paperback (188 pp), (there’s no publication date for #74982)
- 1978, USA, Gregg Press (The Space Adventure Novels of Andre Norton), ISBN 0-8398-2415-7, Pub date 1978 Feb, Hardback (xix + 185 pp)
- 1978, USA, Ace Books, ISBN 0-441-74984-4, Pub date 1978 Jul, Paperback (248 pp)
- 1979, UK, Magnet (Methuen Children’s Books, Ltd.), ISBN 0-416-88290-0, Pub date 1979 Aug, Paperback (191 pp)
- 1981, 1983, 1985, USA, Ace Books, ISBN 0-441-74985-2, 0-441-74986-0, 0-441-74987-9, Pub dates 1981 Nov, 1983 Dec, 1985 Sep, Paperback (248 pp)
- 1991, Italy, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore (Urania #1156), Pub date 1991 Jan, Paperback digest (176 pp), as Limbo 
Galaxy reviewer Floyd C. Gale praised the novel as "unpretentious space opera. . . . good adventure reading for a couple of carefree hours." Anthony Boucher was less impressed, finding Sargasso "a competent routine space opera obviously aimed at the audience whose concept of s.f. is derived from T.V. serials."
The book was also reviewed by
- Hans Stefan Santesson at Fantastic Universe (December 1955)
- P. Schuyler Miller at Astounding Science Fiction (January 1956)
- Calvin M. Knox at Science Fiction Adventures (Mar 1958)
- S. E. Cotts at Amazing Science Fiction (April 1958)
- P. Schuyler Miller at Astounding Science Fiction (June 1958)
- P. Schuyler Miller at Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction (February 1965)
- Michael M. Levy at Fantasy Review (October 1985)