cover image Derelict for Trade

Derelict for Trade

Andre Norton. Tor Books, $22.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85919-0

The second novel to continue the senior author's classic Solar Queen saga of a tramp starship is a vast improvement over Redline the Stars (1993), perhaps because here Norton, who's 84, is working with the talented Smith (the Wren series). Taking place shortly after Redline, the story opens with a fuel-starved Queen coming out of hyperspace and encountering a derelict spaceship inhabited only by two cats. After taking the derelict to an artificial space habitat operated by humans, the insect-like Kanddoyd and the elephantine Shver, the Free Traders begin to discover anomalies in their prize's records. They also begin to find enemies aboard the habitat and on their trail, leading to some exhilarating chases through varying gravities, as well as contact with the habitat's community of ""street kids"" of many races. At the end, the derelict becomes part of what's now a two-ship fleet, and there are other agreeable surprises for Solar Queen fans. This novel is very nearly a model of how to update a venerable series (this one was launched nearly two generations ago), bringing everything from sex roles to computers into harmony with current expectations, without doing violence to the original concept or characters. Featuring multiple viewpoints that allow us to see the crew through one another's eyes, this is a delightful bit of SF. (Feb.)