Looking for a novel, who’s title I thought was ‘Barnard’s Star’, but the hits with this name didn’t seem to fit. The novel is about an expedition to a star (could still be Barnard’s).

Plot points I remember: The drive was some kind of FTL that caused time reversal, with the effects being that the crew became younger and what was is more striking to my memory, the physics got time reversed: The crew were strapped to a centrifuge, and when it spun during the flight, the astronauts were flung toward the axis causing some injuries (I seem to remember that someone’s knees banged against their face).

Once arriving, they landed on a habitable planet and various tensions arose between the crew. Some of it was caused by political tension (the crew was multinational), and some due to the rejuvenation that the crew had experienced. For example, the American astronaut in the crew was known in his youth to be a skirt chaser, but had mellowed in middle age, but I guess the hormones of youth messed him up again and he started an affair with an east European female astronaut.

A memorable confrontation was a fight where the “medical laser” was used. This laser could produce short but rare (say once every minute) bursts of powerful light, So the protagonist feinted by using an ordinary flashlight to spoof his (her?) adversary. The book must be at least 30 years old, and the bit with the centrifuge makes me think it was written after Kubrick/Clark popularized the concept, so 1970-1990ish.

  • John Boyd wrote a book called Barnard's Planet that is about an expedition to Barnard's Star, but I cannot find a copy or even a detailed review to check if it matches your description. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:01
  • @JohnRennie "Barnard's Planet is a science fiction novel about a group of humans who are sent to explore a new planet. They find that the planet is inhabited by a race of intelligent aliens who are very different from humans. The aliens are able to read and write, but they don't have a way of communicating with humans. The humans are able to learn a few words of the aliens' language, but they are unable to learn more. The novel follows the humans as they attempt to learn more about the aliens and to find a way to communicate with them"
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:03
  • OK, so not the OP's book then. Oh well. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:08
  • @DavidW not so fast. Maybe there is something too it. Amazon has a scathing review with terms like: ("retrograde Earth time," "reversing the spin of DNA," "electromagnetic bioplasma," "atomic nuclei counter-rotate (when traveling) at vast speeds," which seem appropriate. Also " these professional military people and scientists infight, they make up". So this is a possible. Why don't you post and I'll upvote, even if it is not the right one, it is a worthy contender ("minus stars"!).
    – user108131
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:28
  • Sorry, I mean @JohnRennie should post
    – user108131
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


This is a shot in the dark, but how about Barnard's Planet by John Boyd?

Barnard's Planet

Captain Lee Ashby, USN, was ready to retire. He wanted no more adventures in his life, no more uncertainty. But he found himself taking command of the Vortex Rider, leading a crew whose makeup made no military or scientific sense, except as colonizers of a new planet- and they had now way of knowing whether the planet was already inhabited.

It doesn't look promising from the precis on the Goodreads site, but as user108131 points out in a comment there is a review on Amazon that mentions:

FTL travel ("retrograde Earth time," "reversing the spin of DNA," "electromagnetic bioplasma," "atomic nuclei counter-rotate (when traveling) at vast speeds,"

and this looks like it might be referring to the time reversal mentioned in the description.

I found this by doing an advanced search on the ISFDB for novels with Barnard in the title, and surprisingly this was the only English language novel the search found.

  • I admit that I don't remember any aliens appearing as @DavidW quoted, but this quote from another unsatisfied reviewer "the Chinese sexpot, the debonair and cynical Frenchman, or the demure Russian maiden" also sounds in the spirit.
    – user108131
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:54
  • @user108131 Given the ... erm ... overwhelmingly positive nature of the reviews the OP may decide they don't want the book identified :-) Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:56
  • 1
    since I am the OP, apparently I have no problem. Just goes to show you that even bad books leave an impression, so bad writers, take heart.
    – user108131
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:58
  • If someone could nail one of the plot points I recalled, that would cinch it for me aliens or not. I'll give it a day or two.
    – user108131
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 18:02
  • @user108131 oops :-) Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 18:12

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