The Last Starship from Earth
|Cover artist||Paul Lehr|
|Publisher||Weybright & Talley, New York|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
The central character is Haldane IV, a mathematician, in a caste-based society. He forms a forbidden relationship with Helix, a poet. He also becomes interested in investigating Fairweather, a famous mathematician who lived shortly before his time, and his son Fairweather II, whom he discovers led a rebellion, which was defeated. Eventually he is given a show trial and deported to another planet, where he meets Fairweather II.
In this world, Jesus Christ became a revolutionary agitator and was never subjected to crucifixion. He assembled an army to overthrow the Roman Empire, and established a theocracy that has lasted until the twentieth century. He was killed by a crossbow while entering Rome, so the crossbow becomes a religious symbol similar to the cross in our time-line.
Robert A. Heinlein said, "It belongs on the same shelf with 1984 and Brave New World," and the Los Angeles Times noted, "In the literate tradition of Huxley, Orwell, and Bradbury, it is a work of extraordinary impact." Joanna Russ, in her review of the book in 1969, was highly critical, writing "I forgive Mr. Boyd the anguish his novel caused me and hope he will eventually forgive me the anguish this review may cause him, but for Berkley there is no forgiveness. Only reform. Don’t do it again." Spider Robinson, however, praised the novel as "delightful, with a rigorously consistent internal logic that doesn't really become apparent until the very last chapter."
- Clareson, Thomas D. (1971). SF: the other side of realism: essays on modern fantasy and science fiction. Bowling Green University Popular Press. p. 186.
- Dannenberg, Hilary P. (2008). Coincidence and counterfactuality: plotting time and space in narrative fiction. Frontiers of narrative. U. of Nebraska Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-8032-1093-0.
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