Mission to Universe is a comparatively obscure Gordon R. Dickson novel. I chose it over more famous alternatives like the Dorsai series1 or the Dragon Knight series, both available in many installments. I chose 1965’s Mission to Universe because sentiment. It wasn’t my first Dickson2, but the 1977 edition was in the first stack of Del Rey books I ever bought. In the 1970s I was a huge fan of Del Rey books.
I may have chosen poorly.…
Four! Billion! People! share an overcrowded Earth. More than fifty nations have armed themselves with nuclear weapons of stupendous power. Nobody wants a nuclear war, but nobody can see a way to safely disarm. All they can do is watch each other nervously while waiting for some crisis to trigger the final war.
Benjamin Shore thinks America’s newly developed phase ship, able to bridge interstellar distances in an instant, could be humanity’s salvation. Habitable worlds around other stars could provide a much needed release valve for Earth’s population. Shore’s superiors disagree; they worry that the phase ship could itself be the spark needed to set off World War Three.
Following the delivery of covert orders from Washington, Shore hastily assembles a crew and takes the Phase Ship Mark III into deepest space. Once there, he reveals a heavily redacted copy of their orders: to
boldly go search the sky until the Phase Ship Mark III finds a new home for humanity!
What Shore’s crew cannot know is that Shore’s redactions conceal the truth; the President never ordered the ship into space. The mission is a fraud.
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