(Found) Looking for a book with a Starship and the sun goes nova


New Member
Apr 7, 2021
I'm looking for a story that's probably at least 15 years old. The main character was engaged to a girl from a rich family and the relationship didn't end well. He signed up to work on a starship and kept in touch with his ex girlfriend's little sister during the trip. Due to time dilation she grew older during his trip.
Eventually the "pilots" started to die and the propulsion system on these ships required people with special talents to basically meditate in the core to power the engines. With the pilots dying they can't keep the ship going and they become stranded.
During all of this the sun mysteriously goes nova and Earth is destroyed. The stranded ship is eventually found by the family of the rich girl and her little sister, on a brand new FTL capable ship. I read this book around 10 years ago on paperback and for the life of me can't remember who wrote it or what the title was. Any help would be appreciated!
The book was in English.
The description of the book reminds me of 2 different Heinlein novels:

--Time for the Stars - 'Torch Ships' (so-called because of their shape) were launched in a spread pattern into deep space. They were slower-than-light ships, but accelerated to near light-speed. The ships communicated with Earth and with each other using telepaths. As the ships encountered the relativistic effects, telepathic comm with earth 'slipped,' until one or both telepaths needed drugs and medical assistance to maintain contact. Our Hero is on a ship that eventually runs into difficulties, and barely escapes from a hostile planet. There is chatter about a mutiny, when they are contacted by an FTL ship just out from Earth that will have then back to earth in days.

--Variable Star, a collaboration between Heinlein and Spider Robinson, written posthumously by Spider Robinson from notes left by Heinlein.
In this story, Our Hero is engaged with a girl from a VERY rich family that is in posesion of a new FTL ship. Our Hero is aboard another ship that's off and about the galaxy (non-FTL, IIRC), when they receive word that the sun has unexpectedly gone nova. Girlfriend and her family are on board an experimental FTL ship. They survived the nova because they were behind the Earth at the time, and were shielded. They gallop off with the goal of finding Our Hero's ship. I haven't read this in a while, so I don't recall the details of what happens when girl meets boy.

I think you may have conflated both stories into one memory!
I agree that it's probably Variable Star. The protagonist was engaged, but left on the space-ship because his fiancee's family wanted him to join the family business. Her little sister helped him escape, and he hooked up with her when they met again and she was grown-up. The ex-fiancee had married during this time.

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