Looking for the book where a space ship made from a giant atomic atom journeys to the center of the galaxy only to find all the stars had gone supernova.

A, Clark-Card-Heinlien-Bova?

  • This is quite brief at the moment so could you take a look at this guide to see if there is anything else you can edit in? For example, when did you read this? Was it a short story, novella, novel, etc.? Also could you clarify what you mean with the final sentence? Are they possible authors you think it might be by?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 25, 2019 at 15:22
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    There's also a novel, also by Niven, about a human who goes to the center of the galaxy in a Bussard ramjet and finds a super-massive black hole there, before coming back to Earth. It's called A World Out Of Time. Feb 25, 2019 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


This sounds like the short story "At the Core" by Larry Niven.

Four years after the events in the other short story "Neutron Star", spaceship pilot Beowulf Shaeffer is on Jinx, a planet orbiting Sirius B, when he is again contacted by the Puppeteers, this time by the Regional President of General Products on Jinx, who offers him a chance to guide a cramped (but very fast) experimental ship to the center of the galaxy as a promotional stunt. Shaeffer is offered one hundred thousand stars to make the trip, plus fifty thousand stars to write about it; he is also given the rights to sell the story. Shaeffer, seeing the value of such a promotion (as well as the value of his pay) agrees to go, naming the ship Long Shot.


Finally, Shaeffer halts, unwilling to go on. He contacts the Puppeteer via hyperphone and tells him that the galaxy is exploding: the Core stars have gone supernova and are causing other stars to do the same as the impinging radiation heats them up. The Puppeteer asks if Shaeffer wishes to be released from his contract without pay and Shaeffer declines, amused. The Puppeteer explains that if Shaeffer does not enter the Core, he forfeits on the contract. Shaeffer explains that he will show the radiation readings and brightness levels, and if questioned under truth drugs, any court in Known Space would know the Puppeteers tried to get Shaeffer to fly into the center of the holocaust, and it would rule against the Puppeteers. The Puppeteer concedes, and tells Shaeffer to return home.

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    That's totally it. Thanks so much!
    – SnowBoy
    Feb 25, 2019 at 15:43
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    @SnowBoy As this is the correct answer you can upvote it if you want and should also accept the answer by clicking on the checkmark next to this answer alongside the voting buttons.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Feb 25, 2019 at 15:57
  • You can find it in archive.org archive.org/details/1966-11_IF/page/n27 Feb 25, 2019 at 16:59
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    And from that base Niven got a totally useful backstory for a bunch of novels (and a bunch more short stories) ...
    – davidbak
    Feb 25, 2019 at 17:39
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    And the bit about the ship being "one giant atom" refers to its General Products hull, which was (mostly) indestructible and formed from a single giant molecule.
    – LAK
    Feb 25, 2019 at 19:59

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