7

I have little recollection when I read this, but it started with people observing indications of some special engine use many lightyears away, and it led them to 'reverse-engineer' the traces to create their own drive. Had the usual tropes of international crew-selection for first-voyage.

Somewhere in the travel, they encounter a sentient star or quasar.

When they get back hundreds/thousands of years later, they arrive to an uncaring Earth that no longer pursues space-travel.

  • Correction: not a star, but a sentient collective of energy in the accretion disk of a black hole. – Foo Bar Jun 23 '18 at 12:54
5

I believe it is Starfarers, by Poul Anderson.

I might have to get this off the shelf and read it again tonight.

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