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I'm trying to identify a science fiction story for a friend. He remembers it as a novella or novelette written in the late 60s or early 70s. In it, they have ships with faster than light drive, but the engines generate so much radiation that they eventually kill the crew. The crews are made of duplicates of people who remain back on Earth and are paid for the duplicates' work.

marked as duplicate by Organic Marble, The Fallen, Null, Jason Baker, Ward Apr 30 '15 at 13:10

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Could be Frederik Pohl's Farthest Star, in which the main method of faster-than-light travel is via matter duplication - you stay here, but a clone is reconstituted at the destination.

In the book, a crew of clones is sent out to rendez-vous with the mysterious planet Cuckoo, and in order to get there quickly the ship is constructed without radiation shielding so that the radiation will kill the clones. But the ship carries the means of constructing a matter duplicator, so that when it reaches its destination more clones are created and get on with exploring the planet.

If it helps, the main character (Ben) gives himself a new middle name (Charles, James, Linc) each time he finds himself as a new clone.

  • Excellent! The original story was "Doomship," published in IF magazine and reprinted in the 1974 World's Best SF. It was by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. They later expanded it into the novel Farthest Star. Thank you Daniel! – Chuck Jun 7 '13 at 17:40

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