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Music on The Galactic Voyager

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Length: 915 pages18 hours

Summary

This science fiction tale is one of exploration, romance, art, and idealism. Set in the latter part of this century, it is about a first attempt to find a suitable planet, and establish an Earth colony. The chief protagonist is bisexual, and finds herself in a society that has become somewhat more conservative than the one she left behind on Earth.

The Galactic Voyager is an enormous space-faring vessel, dispatched from Earth early in the 21st Century. Initially, several hundred colonists are put on board, to establish a shipboard society, which would travel among the stars, a floating space island, with the potential for discovering another Earth, if there was one, and populating it.

On the Voyager, in hibernation, are some forty specialists, who would be resuscitated once their services were needed. Among them is a celebrity: Helen N, a multi-talented musician, educator and performing artist. [Note: The Helen Nordstrom of this story should be considered a different character than the woman in the "Helen" series of stories by the same author.]

Seventy years into the voyage, the generations born on the Ship become restless, and alienated from the pioneers --the original colonists-- and the Ship's administration. The younger members of the population on the ship who aren't sympathetic to the goals of the venture, feel trapped on the vessel, though obviously it is the only way of life they have known. There is a rising level of anarchy and violence, more an expression of frustration than deliberate sabotage. The psychologists on board begin to see that what is lacking are outlets for the youth. It is decided to resuscitate Helen N, as a means of revitalizing on-board culture and the Arts.

The story depicts how Helen interacts with the various sectors of Ship society: the governing elite, the so-called Hippies (who deplore the excessive use of technology), the Service personnel, preoccupied with the scientific aspects of the Ship and its mission, the Dropouts (who hate anything to do with the ship), and the young people who frequent the Purple Pumpkin, who try to spend their time using drugs, and dancing all night long, and engaging in endless sex on the beaches. (The Voyager has a portion set up like a small ocean, with beaches.)

Helen is initially focused on her primary responsibility, to encourage the Arts on board the ship. But inevitably she begins to build relationships with various individuals and families on the vessel, and gradually Helen feels the need to find a lover, an emotional anchor on the ship. The Ship administration observes her carefully, and knows her predicament, but is at a loss as to how to help.

Presently, a planet is spotted, and the Ship administration is faced with the choice of whether to slow down, giving up the enormous kinetic energy (speed) the ship has accumulated through steady acceleration, and head in towards the planet, or to send a small mission on a space launch to investigate the planet, while the Ship keeps its course. Complicating everything is the discovery that it would be possible to clone Helen, to give her a daughter without the tragic flaw of diabetes, which is something that sets Helen apart from the incredibly healthy ship's population.

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