Reviews - What do customers think about Plague Ship (Large Print)?
The Patrol is ordered to destroy the 'Queen' Jul 4, 2005
"Plague Ship" (1956) was one the first science fiction novels I ever checked out of our local library (I can still close my eyes and see that one dinky little shelf, crammed with some of SFs' greatest juvenile authors: Norton; Heinlein; Del Rey; Nourse).
This book contains the second 'Solar Queen' adventure. Norton's four-book series about the trader-crew of the 'Solar Queen' ended in 1969 with "Postmarked the Stars" but beware! Lesser authors have butted into the series, presumably with Norton's permission since this remarkable Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy and Nebula Grand Master just recently passed away after a long and extremely fruitful career (her first novel was published in 1934, her latest fantasy in 2005).
One 'Solar Queen' rip-off to avoid at all costs is "Redline: the Stars."
Norton's 'Solar Queen' stories are told from the viewpoint of Dane Thorson, an apprentice-Cargo Master who is introduced in "Sargasso of Space," the first 'Solar Queen' novel, as a "lanky, very young man in an ill-fitting Trader's tunic." Most of this author's heroes and heroines are young, uncertain of themselves, shy, with a tendency to trip over their own enthusiasms and load themselves up with guilt at the slightest opportunity. They are very likeable and their adventures are narrated in remarkably lean prose with just the right touch of description.
After ten years of schooling, orphan Dane Thorson is assigned via a computer analysis of his psychological profile--not to a safe berth on a sleek Company-run starship that his classmates were vying for--but to a battered tramp of a Free Trader. To say that the 'Solar Queen' "lacked a great many refinements and luxurious fittings which the Company ships boasted" was an understatement. But she was a tightly-run ship and what she lacked in refinement, she made up for in adventure. Dane soon settles in under Cargo Master Van Rycke and learns "to his dismay what large gaps unfortunately existed in his training."
Sometimes I just want to give Dane a big hug.
"Plague Ship" takes the crew of the 'Solar Queen' to Sargol, where the enigmatic feline natives seem very reluctant to trade away their fabulous scented gemstones. When Dane Thorson discovers an herb that the Salariki are willing to swap for their gems, he fears that his eagerness to make a trade breakthrough might have poisoned a native child.
That becomes the least of his worries when the 'Solar Queen' blasts off from Sargol with invisible, undetectable stowaways that would brand the free traders anathema to all inhabited worlds.
In space, the more senior members of the 'Solar Queen's' crew succumb to a strange plague that resembles sleeping sickness. Dane and his fellow-apprentices, with the assistance of Captain Jellico's Hoobat (a sort of blue parrot-lizard, or at least that's how I've always pictured it) discover the source of the plague: venomous hitch-hikers from Sargol. "It walked erect on two threads of legs...a bulging abdomen sheathed in the horny substance of a beetle's shell ended in a sharp point." It was only about a foot-and-a-half high and could change color like a chameleon.
The Hoobat kills and eats the first creature, and then the hunt is on for others of its kind.
Even with the source of the sleeping sickness discovered, the 'Solar Queen's' young apprentices must still convince the rest of the galaxy that they are not a plague ship--and therefore eligible to be destroyed on sight without warning.
The 'Solar Queen' novels are prime representatives of Norton's lean action-packed brand of story-telling (at least the ones she solo-authored.) If you haven't read them since you were a teen-ager, I urge you to try them again. For a few pleasant hours, you will be immersed in the adventures of a likeable, feisty band of free traders on exotic, carefully-drawn alien worlds.
A MARVELOUS ENTERTAINMENT Jul 19, 2002
"Plague Ship" (1956) is the second installment in Andre Norton's so-called Dane Thorson series, and is a direct continuation of the previous volume, "Sargasso of Space." (A reading of that earlier novel is highly recommended before going into this one.) "Plague Ship" does everything that a good sci-fi sequel should: It expands on the possibilities of the previous book, deepens the characters, increases the action and leaves us wanting still more. This time around, Thorson and his 11 shipmates on the galactic trader Solar Queen... It's a very fast-moving and suspenseful tale, full of unusual detail and unexpected turns. There are several highlights that make the book really shine, such as the gorp hunt early in the story. (And when I say "gorp," I'm not talking about high-energy nut-and-raisin trail mix, but rather reptilian, crablike monsters!) This gorp hunt takes place at sunset on the reefs of an oily sea, and is a highly atmospheric and exciting segment. Other great sections include a raid on an asteroid's emergency station; a landing in the Big Burn... and the viewing of the mutant life-forms therein; and the battle... near the book's end, where our heroes make a desperate bid to make their plea for justice to the citizens of the solar system. Like I said, this is a slam-bang sequel, that will leave few readers unsatisfied. That having been said, I need to also mention that there are a few inconsistencies in the book. At one point, Norton tells us that Dane has been in the trading service for a few months; somewhere else, she says that it has been a full year. Huh? And I feel that I must chastise Ace Books for the deplorable job with which this book has been put together. Now don't get me wrong: I LOVE these little Ace paperbacks from the 1950s, especially those 2-in-1 Ace doubles. But there are so many typos--not to mention punctuational and grammatical errors--in this book that the reading thereof is made a labor. Should we blame Norton or the publishers for a sentence such as this: "His hands, blundering within the metallic claws of the gloves, Dane buckled two safety belts about him." How could any copy editor or proofreader let such an egregious line such as this get through, when just the simple deletion of that first comma would have made all the difference?! Apparently, these little Ace books were never proofed or edited. They're wonderful volumes, with marvelously pulpy covers, but sadly, the contents were not given their due. But enough about Ace's carelessness. "Plague Ship," despite the occasional blunder, is still a marvelous entertainment, and I do highly recommend it.
Plague Ship Jan 18, 2000
Solar Queen adventure about trading contract for the planet Sargol acquired after losing planet Limbo contract to Star Patrol(Sargasso of Space). Van and Dane find that the Inter-solar(I-S) company there ahead of them. Still, they tried for fair trade with the Salariki for their koros gems. The crew of the Solar Queen after takeoff find they have a plague on board and as the crew one by one becomes sick finds the Star Patrol out to destroy the ship on sight. Classic Andre Norton