Thanks for the suggestions to improve. Here is an updated version.

I've been trying to find this for decades.

  • science fiction book (or maybe long story)
  • English
  • I do not remember the cover image, but it was paperback
  • Probably read it prior to 1980s, no idea of the publishing date

Before the SETI program was even a concept: Radio or Light signals are detected from a planet around a "nearby" star. A ship is built and about 10 astronauts (split male/female) embark to explore the signals. light years of distance, and many relativistic years, go by. The astronauts make, break, and form new couples enroute over many years.

The ship approaches the planet in question but there are no electronic emissions. The astronauts find the planet's inhabitants are peaceful to the point of being without progress – they lived beyond space exploration and now just ... exist together. I seem to recall that they were furry. There was a "translator" device permitting them to talk, sort of, to the astronauts.

The population of the planet is unimpressed by their visitors. (Many thousands of years had passed on earth, and on this planet.) Their society is in cultural stasis - no ambition or curiosity. Not particularly humanoid. Distinct lack of interest in the astronauts, but polite in dealing with them.

When the astronauts returned to Earth (another long trip), many millennia have passed (the number 50,000 years comes to mind but could be VERY wrong) the astronauts land and Earth has changed (obviously). No one on Earth remembered their mission and didn't care too much that they had returned at all.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this and when do you think it might've been published? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Feb 19 at 19:24
  • 2
    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Feb 19 at 19:25
  • 4
    I think the sub plot about an escape pod at an event horizon is from Gateway
    – Danny Mc G
    Feb 19 at 21:36
  • 2
    Gateway has two ships of the same size at an event horizon.
    – JRE
    Feb 19 at 22:26
  • Thanks to all. I'm a newby, first post. It is not Gateway, I think it prededed that series. Some details added.
    – Tekhneguy
    Feb 21 at 6:19


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