A novel of its time

Bussard Ramjet, NASA image: Wikipedia Commons
Bussard Ramjet, NASA image: Wikipedia Commons

Tau Zero by Poul Anderson.
Gollancz SF Masterworks, 2006 (1970).

A few centuries hence fifty specialists, twenty five of either gender, set out on a journey to the star Beta Virginis to colonise a new planet.

Their transport is the Leonora Christine, an interstellar spaceship powered by a Bussard ramjet, capable of accelerating to near light speed (tau zero).

Just before their halfway point, while still accelerating, disaster strikes with damage to the propulsion, meaning that the craft will continue its acceleration and not only miss its target but potentially never stop. How do the crew cope, and do they survive?

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