One of the most intriguing of the unresolved questions which will face astronauts on prolonged trips away from Earth is that of time. Will travel in space involve speedups or lags in relation to Earth time — and if so, what will be the effects, physically and psychologically, on the travelers?
In this novel of the future, Alan Donnell, son of a spaceship captain, has a special and compelling reason for wanting to unravel the time-space problem that has baffled men for years. Because time aboard the great starships becomes curiously contracted, a trip to Alpha Centauri affects the men in space as a mere six-week interval — but on Earth, nine years have passed when they return. It has become the custom for Spacers to remain on their ship with their families, living their entire lives within those confines rather than attempting to adjust to the enormous changes that take place on Earth between trips.
Alan's twin brother Steve jumps ship and takes his chances on a bewildering and hostile Earth rather than endure the restrictive life of a Spacer. By the time the twins meet again, Steve is twenty-six and Alan is still only seventeen. Determined to keep his family intact, Alan braves the dangerous Earth city and stakes his life on the possibility of making the two ways of life compatible.
Here is an inventive science-fiction novel with real human-interest complications, by a master of the field.