I read this a long time ago and thought that it had the saddest line I'd ever read at the end, referring to the star being so far from galactic fringes that it had no chance of ever achieving MFTL travel. However I have just acquired a new copy and cannot find that reference - did I imagine it?

  • 1
    MFTL? Maine Fair Trade Lobster?
    – user14111
    Jan 16, 2017 at 11:05
  • @user14111: urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=MFTL
    – Spencer
    Jan 16, 2017 at 16:04
  • Mucho - FTL :-)
    – Valorum
    Jan 16, 2017 at 18:07
  • @Valorum Yeah, that makes sense, in this context. OTOH, in a Doctor Who context, how would you read "What's that MFTL up to this time?"
    – user14111
    Jan 16, 2017 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


Page 176 in the ebook version, about three quarters of the way through, rather than at the end.

Like Golter; like poor, poor Golter.

It had found itself alone and it had spread itself as far as it could and produced so much, but it was still next to nothing.

They had grown up-had they only known it-in one room of an empty house. When they began to understand it was a house, they had thought there must be others nearby; they had thought perhaps they were in the suburbs, or even a well-hidden part of the city, but though they had colonised those other rooms, they had looked out from their furthest windows and tallest skylights and found-to their horror, and a horror only their own increased understanding made them fully able to appreciate-that they were truly alone.

They could see the nebulae, beautiful and distant and beckoning, and could tell that those faraway galaxies were composed of suns, other stars like Thrial, and even guess that some of those suns too might have planets round them… but they looked in vain for stars anywhere near their own.

The sky was full of darkness. There were planets and moons and the tiny feathery whorls of the dim nebulae, and they had themselves filled it with junk and traffic and emblems of a thousand different languages, but they could not create the skies of a planet within a galaxy, and they could not ever hope, within any frame of likelihood they could envisage existing, to travel to anywhere beyond their own system, or the everywhere-meaningless gulf of space surrounding their isolated and freakish star.

For a distance that was never less than a million light years in any direction around it, Thrial-for all its flamboyant dispersion of vivifying power and its richly fertile crop of children planets-was an orphan.

  • Valorum, Thank you very much for that - I was beginning to doubt myself. It will be the first time I have reread it in at least 10 years and now that I can look forward to it without thinking I'm senile I shall enjoy it all the more. Again, many thanks. Jan 18, 2017 at 4:15

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