By Steve Jackson
Starship Traveller is the first book to divert from the fantasy settings of the first few books and attempts to portray a sci-fi environment with mixed results.
So, the best rolls yet but sadly the least important. The story here is that you are the captain of a spaceship that has just stumbled into a black hole. Instead of ripping the ship apart, the black hole has deposited it in another universe. The quest is to find your way home and it is notoriously difficult.
My first choice is which of three star systems I want to travel to. I decide to head towards one of the life bearing systems but before I get there I am intercepted by a Ganzig ship. I decide to listen to the alien’s demands and he beams aboard. The commander seems eager to see my computer room so I divert him with a guided tour of the ship. All goes well until he sees an eagle – in a bizarre coincidence I just happen to have the one creature that this alien in another universe considers sacred on board my ship. After attacking the Eagle, the alien collapses in a blubbering heap and orders the release of my ship.
Next I arrive at a large red planet called Prax. I beam down and am greeted by an alien before he is blasted to death my a member of my crew. I then proceed to a large library (while being fired at – I now assume there is some sort of hallucinogen in the air) and while there find out there is a black hole in sector 288. A bit dubious due to the strange goings on here, I beam back up with this information. I later find out the tragic story of this planet – due to an accident, the whole planet was dowsed with a strong hallucinogen that caused the demise of their civilization.
Next I moved onto a star cluster and came across a meteor shower. I stood fast and my shield held. Unfortunately it now seems that the on board freezer is on the blink so I am obliged to beam down to a planet to get some more food. I choose the lush looking green planet. After beaming down I hear a huge beast coming towards me. Realising too late that these books rarely like you hiding, I hid from the beast. Sadly my Security officer is quickly stomped to death by another of the creatures! I set my phasers to stun and slay one of the animals to eat later. I then go looking for vegetation but get attacked by a plant. I use my phaser to escape but it overloads it, making it unusable for my next encounter with the local fauna so I kill that with my bare hands and head back to my ship.
The next planet is the blue-green planet, Cliba. I encounter some strange, short legged aliens who agree to take me to their leader. Once I speak to him, I find out that their people have become famished due to the “rain lord” not favouring them. I tell my medical officer to help their sick, she becomes ill but it is nothing she cannot shake off. I then decide to pay the rain lord a visit. Turns out the rain lord is an alien who has crashed landed with some weather equipment that has malfunctioned. I beam down my science officer who has it working in a jiffy and find out that I need to travel toward the black hole at warp 3 to enter successfully (I find out later that I don’t need this info though – shame). I leave the people of Cliba to their new found good weather and carry on my journey.
Before long I come across a deserted Grey planet that I decide to investigate. I find a crashed spaceship that is also deserted so I beam it up aboard the ship. This, it appears, is a mistake as it seems to be making my staff sick. I decide to quarantine the landing party but this is my second mistake and more of my crew die. Luckily they are nobodies and I mange to seal off the craft and contain the poisonous gas. I decide to evacuate all the air from the affected areas and this seems to stop the rot.
Cursing my decision to land on the grey planet, I head towards a fast moving spaceship. It turns out this belongs to my old friends the Ganzig. They do not appear that friendly, however, and they escort me to their space station. Once there, they let me roam the station and I speak to someone in charge who tells me about a black hole due to appear on stardate 77. This could be the one I am looking for… I thank him and leave.
I spend the next few hours speeding through space and my mutinous crew seem to want to go home. I have some details about where and when I expect the black hole to be so I set course for this. Unfortunately this is the last thing I ever do and I never wake up again.
Went through the wrong black hole.
As I expected, I was not successful in this adventure. The story was a little more interesting than I remembered but there is an odd bit about the warp speed for entering the blackhole that doesn’t seem to mean anything. Overall I felt the story was a bit lacking, but it is good to experience a new setting. Finally, I thought the artwork was a little lacking in this book. 5/10.