I read this sci-fi book back around 1987 that my father had finished. My memory of the book is sadly very limited, but the emotion of enjoying it string prompting me to try and remember it.

My clear memories are it is set in a spaceship, there is a crew (or team) that might have been space pirates or thieves of some sort. The encounter an alien of some type that I believe was described as spider-like with ultrathin (practically invisible to the human eye) legs that could slice through the members of the crew.

  • Can you remember anything about the character names, crew (male, female, was there a captain?), anything about the spaceship? Was the alien encounter a main part of the novel or merely one of a series of events that befell the crew? – Valorum Sep 4 '14 at 9:13
  • One presumes that the description that it had legs that could slice through members of the crew means it did indeed demonstrate this capability? – Broklynite Sep 4 '14 at 9:58

I think this may be George R. R. Martin's "Tuf Voyaging" (1986).

book cover, futuristic architecture, man sitting  in front of a round table, a cat in the bottom right corner

In the first part of the book, a team of archeologists and mercenaries discover the Ark, a huge and powerful ecological war ship dating from a long-past interstellar war. The team falls apart quickly as everyone tries to gain control of the ship for themself. One of the mercenaries gets control of the Ark's biological weapons system (monsters from hundreds of different worlds) and starts using it against the others.

Here's the spider-like alien with ultra-thin legs:

A spi­der, then. A weird one. The rocky ap­pear­ance made him think it was some kind of sil­i­con-based life. He’d heard of that, here and there. It was real god­damned rare. So he had some kind of sil­i­con-spi­der here. Big deal. Kaj Nevis moved closer. Damn, he thought. The web, or what he thought was the web … hell, the damned thing wasn’t sit­ting on the web, it was part of the web. Those fine, thin, shiny web strands grew out of its body, he saw. He could barely make out the join­ings. And there were more than he thought—hun­dreds of them, maybe thousands, most of them too thin to be seen from any kind of dis­tance at all, but when you looked at them from the right angle, you could see the light gleam­ing off them, all sil­very-faint.

And yes, the ultra-thin legs are shown to slice-and-dice very nicely.

  • I'm 99% that is the book. Even the cover looks familiar. :) – Gordon Van Dyke Sep 4 '14 at 13:47
  • Spoke to my dad, it is the book. Thanks again! :D – Gordon Van Dyke Sep 5 '14 at 7:04
  • @Gordon Van Dyke: De Nada, my pleasure. – Joe L. Sep 5 '14 at 7:12

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