(Found) SciFi novel, 80s, where space travel is done by solving formulas, and a lazy character named Bardo finds a formula to travel anywhere


New Member
Dec 7, 2019
I am looking for a sci-fi novel that I found very original back in the days. Here's what I remember:

- I remember the title as "Neverend" or "Neverworld", but searching for those terms did not turn up the novel. I may misremember the name. I also read the novel in German, the original title may have been different.

- It was a fairly long (400+ pages) novel that was probably published in the 80s (the original may have been older, but I don't think so).

- In the novel, space travel was done by a specific group of people (perhaps monks), who traveled in one-person vessels by constructing and solving formulae. The number of possible destinations for each "jump" was limited by the valid solutions for the formulae.

- In the later parts of the novel, a character named Bardo - the protagonist's best friend - finds a way to cancel the location parameter out of the equations, which enables travel from and to anywhere. Bardo was described throughout the novel as a lazy, jovial character who lacked the discipline and seriousness that were usually seen as a requirement for being a pilot. It turned out that his laziness and out-of-the-box thinking ultimately enabled him to find that less calculation-intensive (but more versatile) way of traveling. These are the elements that I remember best, though they were not an important part of the plot (AFAIR the protagonist returns home from a longer odyssey that I don't remember much about, and finds out that his lazy friend Bardo has revolutionized space travel in the meantime).

- I remember vaguely that the protagonist changed into the body of a caveman after being stranded on a strange planet, not sure about the details though.

- One of the regions of space was called the "Veld" (at least in the German translation), it was a region of mysteriously high activity that was out of reach for most of the story. Later in the novel, it turns out that this activity is caused by many space ships flying between the stars.

- The novel was not written by a well-known author. I had an extensive library of authors that I found particularly imaginative (Dick, Ballard, Sturgeon, Coney, etc.) and scouted bookstores regularly, but I never found any other works from the author of this novel. My searches were limited to German books though, and searching for books was not easy (all you could do was ask a bookstore owner to check a publisher's catalogue).

The novel may have been pretty obscure here in Germany, I haven't found anyone who remembers it. But since the content (as far as I remember it) was pretty original and unique, perhaps these fragments ring a bell somewhere? Thanks in advance to anyone trying to solve this!
Last edited:
i was going to say anathem by neal stephenson but it's from 2008
David Zindell, Neverness ?
It's definitely that.

Part of the story is that they want to get genetic material from a race of Neanderthals that live on the same planet as these pilots, because the protagonists believe they need to get the most ancient sapien genetic code, as humanity has been busy 'carking' themselves and altering their genetic code, so much of humanities original DNA has has been lost.

I remember adoring Neverness as a nerdy teen :giggle:. Zindell did a trilogy set after the events in Neverness - 'A requiem for Homo Sapiens', starting with The Broken God. Unfortunately I got rapidly irritated by the protagonist and it didn't quite work for me, but they are there if you want to check them out!
I've barely read any books for a while (I work in computer game distribution, and games have become my go-to entertainment medium, since playing them doubles as research for my job ;) ), but if this reignites my love for SciFi books, I'll definitely stick around! It could be interesting to read the originals of some of my favorite books - back in the 80s I read anything SciFi that I could get my hands on, but access to English originals was very limited. I especially loved the poetic style of some writers (Delany, Sturgeon, Ballard), and I'm pretty sure that these works were difficult to translate, so some of the magic may have been lost in the German translations that I've read. Re-reading books like Dhalgren or Neverness in their original language sounds intriguing. :)