void captains tale


Some medals you wear on your heart not your sleeve
Mar 29, 2019
I have to admit I've never heard of The Void Captain's Tale [or know much about the author] before this. I've found out that he wrote one of my favourite ST:TOS episodes The Doomsday Machine.
What was it about TVCT that you enjoyed or found interesting?

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Mar 7, 2012
Darn. Never did get to that one. Read "Riding the Torch" and The Star-Spangled Future (a collection) but no longer remember details; also read The Iron Dream, which was good but one-note. I think his Dangerous Visions story "Carcinoma Angels" was one of the ones I thought best at time of reading and spurred me to read the others.


Oct 23, 2008
Riding the Torch is a kind of precursor to The Void Captain's Tale and, if you liked that and can appreciate the style of Void, then you would probably like it, too.

It's been a long time since I read it, so I can't say much about it with any confidence, but it is a fairly short novel which nevertheless portrays the culture of the "Second Starfaring Age" that feels deep, rich, and fully realized. The audacity of its central concept linking psychosexual and psychospatial dynamics in such a literal way (I mean, obviously thematic, but literal machinery in the context of the fiction) is different from, but worthy of John Shirley and other bold writers. The heavily spiced style Spinrad uses to tell the tale, inventing a "sprach" of English, German and other tongues blended into one (while varying it from character to character based on their subtle variety of fusion and bowing to practical matters so that it's still English enough to be readily comprehensible to the English-speaking reader) would ordinarily be off-putting (actually, more likely ruinous) to me but it works in this book, contributing to that feeling of depth and strangeness of the starfaring culture. For all I know, the New Puritans of today would find something in it objectionable, but I thought the portrayal of the two main characters was powerful.

I am Genro Kane Gupta, Void Captain of the Dragon Zephyr, and mayhap this is my todtentale. Of necessity, it is also the tale of Void Pilot Dominique Alia Wu, but she is gone into the Great and Only...

That sense of complete incompleteness, of Beowulfian wyrd is conveyed right away, there, along with a light intro to the sprach. It was followed by a good but much larger, flabbier novel set in the same universe, Child of Fortune, which I like okay, but I think of The Void Captain's Tale as one of my all-time favorites.

Vince W

Towel Champion
Sep 9, 2011
Spinrad is an author that doesn't get discussed enough here. I've not read The Void Captain's Tale, but I have read several others with a couple of my favourites being Bug Jack Barron and Russian Spring. I should get on a Spinrad binge.

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