Cover image for Borrowed tides
Borrowed tides
Levinson, Paul.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York: Tor, 2001.
Physical Description:
238 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A voyage and an adventure as sublime as any in the history of the universe. Aaron Schoenfeld has parlayed a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science and a sharp tongue into an improbable second career as director of a project to plan and execute the first interstellar voyage. The trip to Alpha Centauri will take many years and might end up being a one-way journey for the crew. His old acquaintance Jack Lumet may be the unlikely source of an answer. An anthropologist obsessed with the myths of Native Americans, he once wrote a paper about Wise Oak, an Iroquois sachem who claimed to have ridden a cosmic version of the Hudson, a tidal river that flows both ways, to the stars and back. In a world where money for space journeys is hard to come by, even a slightly mad theory that suggests a possible shortcut to the stars is an attractive possibility for the people who believe more in humanity's destiny among the stars than they do in safety considerations, minimal risks, or taking no for an answer.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In 2016, astronomers discover planets in the Alpha Centauri star system, four-plus light-years away. By 2023, an unmanned, one-way mission to Alpha Centauri A (ACA) is ready, as is the ship for an eight-year voyage by a nine-person crew. It is decided to man the mission, after all. Since the mission ship carries just enough fuel for a one-way trip, using a slingshot effect around ACA should give the ship the boost from the star's gravity that will return it to Earth. As the ship nears ACA, unusual readings come from the star and one planet. The latter looks very Mars-like, but suddenly is transformed into something very Earth-like. The slingshot attempt fails but allows inspection of the transformation and of a mysterious hulk near ACA. During the latter investigation, a traumatic experience with the hulk renders one crew member catatonic. Several others become depressed by the prospect of never going home. But an Iroquois theory of star currents proves more tenable than had been assumed. A to-the-last-page spellbinder. --Bryan Baldus

Publisher's Weekly Review

Politics blends neatly with spirituality in Levinson's provocative second novel (after The Silk Road), about the first manned interstellar flight to a planet in the Alpha Centauri star system. Two septuagenarians, first acquainted in childhood, head the crew: Aaron Schoenfeld, whom the U.S. president has chosen on the strength of his philosophical arguments for space exploration, and Jack Lumet, an anthropologist who has incorporated the mystical teachings of Iroquois Indians into his worldview. It is Lumet's insights into the Indians' beliefs regarding the cyclical nature of travel on river currents extrapolated to a cosmic level that enable a final American commitment to the trip. In order to maintain continued support of space exploration, a live crew that will be able to return must undertake this voyage. Once underway the other seven members of the crew face personal conflicts regarding the validity of the theoretical constructs adapted from spiritual sources. These doubts culminate in an attempted mutiny. None of the events leading up to the revolt fall into genre clich‚s, as all of the characters are well drawn and their motivations are believable. But the real surprises come on reaching the star system after eight years of travel. The author has created an ingenious narrative that loops back on itself like a M”bius strip. Readers will enjoy working through the unexpected paradoxes the characters find themselves in and watching how each character individually chooses to resolve the shared predicament during the journey homeward. (Mar. 13) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the mid-21st century, a ship bound for Alpha Centauri sets out to investigate the possibility of intelligent life in deep space. Making use of an untested maneuver that will allow the ship to make the return trip with minimal fuel expenditure, the crew encounters a strange set of phenomena that appear to roll back time and threatens to undo the events of the voyage. Levinson, the current president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, packs his second sf novel (after The Silk Code) with layers of meaning that blend ancient legends with modern science and provides an intriguing glimpse into the mysteries of time and space. For most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.