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I read it in English in the United States, somewhere in the 1990s. I got it off of the big bookshelf in our family room, which means it could be a good bit older; some of the books were my Dad's. At the beginning, a young boy (maybe an early teen?) leaves his house, where he lives with his parent or parents, and takes a test to become a spaceship pilot for the military. Part of the test judges reaction speed, and he fails the test. He later learns (I think when he's approached by an agent of the government) that he "failed" because he has some sort of enhanced fortune that meant that he was actually giving the results before they could be displayed on the screen. At the time, I remember thinking that the book felt a bit like a Star Wars rip-off.

Years later, I read that one of the Star Wars books (probably now Legends) had Luke similarly failing the Imperial Academy test because he gave his answers too quickly, and it amused me that I was uncertain as to which had come first.

I don't remember anything concrete about the cover, although I have a general impression that it was white. Definitely futuristic. My impression was that the boy was wearing a white uniform for the testing and that the government agent who spoke to him had a grey beard, but I might be mixing bits of Star Wars in there.

  • Ender's Game? I'm not sure, because I haven't read it myself yet, but from what I've heard it seems to fit the description. – LarsW Jun 6 '16 at 15:31
  • No. I've read that and it doesn't really fit on any count other than there being a child, space travel, and tests. – FuzzyBoots Jun 6 '16 at 15:57
  • Well, those were the only parts I actually knew. I guess it doesn't fit with "Star Wars rip-off" and as far as I know, he didn't leave and take a test, but was taken away. – LarsW Jun 6 '16 at 16:42
  • I don't know the answer but it sounds similar to a series that I read a while ago. This was set in post-apocalyptic USA and large urban areas were all underground, but in the wilds were mutant humans who had patchwork colored skins. Overland "trains" connected them and the protagonist trained as a pilot of small electric powered plane that was launched from these "trains". The "luck" part of the training was shown very early in the first book. Later books allude that he might be mutant himself but not appear mutant. I was actually looking for that series this week myself. – Peter M Jun 6 '16 at 17:27
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+250

Could this be Starluck, by Donald Wismer?

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The above is my first science fiction novel. It is based on the idea that luck is an objective quality that can be developed and possibly increased. I wrote the book before I read Larry Niven's Ringworld -- honest. Our young man hero is identified by the Emperor's government as being preternaturally lucky and therefore a long term threat. He is targeted for elimination but luckily escapes and joins an interstellar circus. He travels about the galaxy, learns martial arts, discovers he is a part of a rebel group and eventually confronts the Emperor.

  • That looks very, very familiar, the cover at Goodreads (goodreads.com/book/show/1709090.Starluck) even moreso. I've requested a copy through the library, but I think this is it! – FuzzyBoots Jun 6 '16 at 17:19
  • @FuzzyBoots Fwiw, I remember reading it as a kid and also thinking it was a ripoff of Star Wars, especially with the rebellion against the evil emperor, rare magic power, and martial arts training. I also remember the odd detail of a planet named "L. Redbone," I guess the author was a blues fan. – Milo P Jun 6 '16 at 17:26
  • Poking through the reviews, he also apparently named all of the starships after locations in Maine, his home state. :) – FuzzyBoots Jun 6 '16 at 17:28

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