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Anderson, Poul
book-date: 1961
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Paul Lehr
VG+ to near-Fine

Orbit Unlimited - an episodic novel or linked collection. A small group headed by a spaceman siezes one last chance to escape an Earth government growing more and more oppresive, and settle on the plateau High America on the planet Rustum. I rather liked this set, and also the further stories (sequels) - collected in New America.

Robin Hood's Barn
The Burning Bridge
Condemned to Death
The Mills of the Gods

The first 3 parts appeared in Astounding and Fantastic Universe in 1959; the final entry is original to the 1961 paperback.

For a reasonable plot summation I again rely on excerpts from a review by my favorite reviewer - from Analog October 1961:
"We are shown a future Earth, regimented and comfortable, whose benign dictator forces the rebellious elements who still carry some promising genes into taking that nucleus of hope away from Earth to a distant, not too hospitable planet. The second episode begins to draw character: the starship captain whos has to decide whether to continue or turn back, when a fragmentary message seems to give them that option. In a third episode - a neat little problem story with value-choices thrown in - the colonists land, and we sense the rifts forming among them.

The last third of the book is really a story in itself, and by far the best. Here are the colonists, established with difficulty on a high plateau above the clouds of Rustum, a world too large, with too dense an atmosphere, for ordinary human beings to live at sea level. Stresses on their society are producing strains - test-tube children, for example, who know they're not wanted; dogged religious isolationism on the part of the former space captain. Then an ectogenetic child runs away, and most of the community are too busy - actually, and in rationalization - to help look for one of "them." Finally two men, representing totally different social values, do start to look for him and come up against the grim hostility of an undefeated world.

Once upon a time, this kind of story would only have been about the struggle with Rustum. There would have been more monsters, more action, more peril, more "big scenes" of violent action. It is a measure of Poul Anderson's stature as a writer of tales of wonder that in this story the human conflicts are what matter, stressed and triggered by the grim nature of the strange world where they are trying to live." [P. Schuyler Miller]