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STARHUNT by David Gerrold (Excerpt and Giveaway!)

David Gerrold’s website recently got a makeover to highlight the twelve classic works that have been made available in eBook format.

One of those books is Starhunt and we’re pleased to be able to offer a Starhunt giveaway for SF Signal readers!

Winners will receive an eBook copy of Starhunt *and* a chance to select FOUR additional eBooks from David’s 12 new releases. (The eBooks will be in PDF format.)

Are you not familiar with Starhunt? Here’s what it’s about:

Only an endless space war could have produced the Roger Burlingame. A war that had caused Earth to turn starships into instruments of total destruction. A war that had so drained Earth of resources that the Roger Burlingame was kept in service long after it should have been scrapped.

Now, light years from Earth, the great starship had sighted a quarry almost certain to defeat it in a fair fight. The captain’s nerve was gone; the crew were on the verge of mutiny. And command had passed to a fanatical young first officer hungry for his first kill.

War had turned into hell—and this was a voyage of the damned…

Originally published as Yesterday’s Children.

Find out how to win after the exceprt!

Starhunt (An Excerpt)
by David Gerrold
If anything can go wrong, it will.

The operations of a destroyer-class starship consist of more than seven hundred thousand separate and distinct functions. All of them can be monitored from its Command and Control Seat.

The seat is a harsh throne on a raised dais. It is the center of the bridge and the man in it controls the ship. Right now, Jonathan Korie is that man. Thin, pale, and motionless, he is the first officer of the United Systems Starship Roger Burlingame.

The ship has been on battle alert for twelve days, and for ten of those days, Jon Korie has been the highest ranking officer on the bridge. Ten days ago the captain retired to his cabin, and he has not been seen since. So Korie sits in the Command and Control Seat and is bored.

Lean and angular, he sprawls loose across it; his colorless eyes gaze disinterestedly at the giant rectangle of red dominating the front of the bridge. On it is a single shimmer of white, the stress-field projection of the enemy ship. Superimposed below that is a number, 170; the enemy’s speed is 170 times the speed of light. The speed of the Burlingame is 174 lights.

They are gaining, but only slowly. It will take at least twelve more days to close the remaining gap-and even then, when they do catch up to the enemy, they may not be able to destroy him. As long as the quarry stays in warp, he has the advantage; he is easy to pursue, but difficult to catch. Either he must be outmaneuvered or he must be hounded until his power is exhausted. Both procedures are difficult and wearying.

Korie stares without seeing. The huge screen bathes the room with a blood-colored glow; the image burns into the retina. His nose no longer notices the familiar odors of old plastic and stale sweat. His ears no longer hear the muted whisper of activity, the ever-present, almost silent humming of the computers.

A speaker in his headrest beeps. He touches a button on the chair arm. “Korie here. Go ahead.”

A laconic voice. “Mr. Korie, this is the engine room. We’re picking up some kind of wobbly on the number three generator.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I don’t know, sir. The damn thing’s been throwing off sparks for a week.”

Korie grunts. And swivels his chair sixty degrees to the left. Above the warp control console is a medium large screen, one of many that line the upper walls of the bridge. On it, the power consumption levels of the ship’s six warp generators are shown. The red bar of number three is hazy at its tip with a shallow but extremely rapid oscillation.

“It looks mild enough,” Korie says to the waiting communicator. “Could one of the secondaries be out of phase?”

“Negative. If it were, we wouldn’t be able to hold a course. It was one of the first things we checked.”

“Well, how bad is it? Can you manage?”

“Oh, sure. Just thought you ought to know. That’s all.”

“Right. See what you can do about it. Let me know if it gets worse.”

“Yes, sir.” The communicator bleeps out.

Forgetting the wobbly, Korie swivels forward again. He pushes his hair-light, almost colorless-back off his forehead. Stretching out his long legs, he shifts to a less uncomfortable position.

Idly, he smoothes out a wrinkle in his dark tights, scratches vainly at a spot on his grey and blue tunic. He wets a pale forefinger against his tongue and rubs at the persistent stain until it fades. Satisfied, he reclines again in the chair.

A chime sounds, a bell-like tone. Korie’s gaze strays automatically to the clock-abruptly he checks himself. (It isn’t my relief that’s coming.) The thought echoes rudely in his mind.

The bridge of the starcruiser is a bowl-shaped room. The wide door at the rear of it slides open to admit four low-voiced crewmen. They cut off their talk, move quickly into the room, and separate.

Two rows of gray-blue consoles circle the bridge, the outer row surrounding the room on a wide raised ledge, the other just inside and below. Despite the spaciousness of the room’s original measurements, the additional consoles and equipment that have since been added force a cramped feeling within.

Brushing past their shipmates, two of the men move around to the front of the ledge, called the horseshoe. They tap two others and step into their places at the controls. The other relief crewmen step down into the circle of consoles in the center, a lowered area called the pit. They too tap two men. Dropping easily into the quickly vacated couches, the new men settle into the routine with a familiarity bred of experience.

The men going off watch exit just as quickly and once more the bridge is still. The crew are sullen figures in the darkened room, sometimes silhouetted against the glare of a screen.

[End of excerpt]

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About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

1 Comment on STARHUNT by David Gerrold (Excerpt and Giveaway!)

  1. The Fred Kiesche Stamp of Approval (TM).

    Also an interesting book (and it’s sort of sequels) to look at in terms of a potential television series that has tried to come into existence several times. Dig around (Memory Alpha I believe has a good entry) and see what a snake pit the television industry is.

    (Alas, a lot of the artwork that was available at one point has vanished; there have been some wonderful production drawings made for this show that has yet to be.)

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