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From what I remember I'd guess this story would have come out mid 70's to mid 90's. It starts out from the perspective of a young girl, or teenager, who lives on a planet other than earth, not even sure earth is mentioned, and multiple other planets are home to human civilizations. For some reason, whatever means humans have been able to travel between these far away planets (warp, wormhole, ftl, etc.) is slowly becoming less accessible and soon each planet will be cut off from the others. A mission is launched, I'm assuming from the girl's planet, to try to determine why their ability to travel at great speeds is declining. I'm fairly certain the girl goes along on the mission. Now I'm not as certain about this part but I believe they run into a ship or station, (something technological) that helps explain what's going on. Any help would be appreciated.

Update: Pretty sure it was a standalone book, not part of a series. Also remember the plot being fairly strait forward. No subplots or multiple story lines converging. Just the group goes out to solve the mystery, does its thing, and goes home.

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Alright, managed to track it down by going through the online catalog for the libraries in the county of AZ I checked it out from about 10 years ago. Good thing I remembered where I was when I read it :P I was off on 2 things. One the main character was a male teenager, and two interstellar travel has already disappeared, not is disappearing. The book is Godspeed by Charles Sheffield. Thanks to all that helped.

Book cover

To the citizens of the planet Erin, the Godspeed Drive is a legendary device from a lost age before the isolation of the Forty Worlds. To teenager Jay Hara, however, it is his one chance to claim his future in deep space--if he can find it. After meeting Paddy Enderton, a seedy old spacer, Jay is drawn into a chase which carries him off the planet, into the asteroid belt and its tiny worldlets, and finally to the remnants of an ancient space station where the Godspeed drive may still exist. The author of Cold as Ice ( LJ 6/15/92) sets this coming-of-age adventure against the backdrop of a planet struggling in quiet desperation to hold onto the remnants of a dying technology.

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    That's kind of funny, when I read your question originally, I pulled out Godspeed to look at it, but I discounted it because of the 2 things you mentioned! – Organic Marble Aug 7 '15 at 13:06
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    Yeah I had nothing to do for a week when I read it and read about 5 books back to back so I'm not surprised I got some of it wrong. Picked up a copy for $1.40 from the bookstore yesterday though. – DarklingPlain Aug 8 '15 at 23:20
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All of this is consistent with the plot of The Snow Queen and its sequels. But I'm not sure about this identification, because a lot of other things happen in these books, and it feels odd to remember only these parts of the plot.

From what I remember I'd guess this story would have come out mid 70's to mid 90's.

The Snow Queen was published in 1980.

It starts out from the perspective of a young girl, or teenager, who lives on a planet other than earth, not even sure earth is mentioned, and multiple other planets are home to human civilizations.

The planet Tiamat is divided into two nations: Winter, a colder region whose residents embrace contact with higher-tech off-worlders, and Summer, a tropical region which keeps a traditional, close-to-nature lifestyle.

Very importantly, the Summers live in harmony with mers, while the Winters harvest mers' blood to make a longevity drug, which is exported galaxy-wide as no other source of longevity is known.

Moon is a teenage girl from Summer, and she's the main heroine of The Snow Queen.

For some reason, whatever means humans have been able to travel between these far away planets (warp, wormhole, ftl, etc.) is slowly becoming less accessible and soon each planet will be cut off from the others.

The planet Tiamat is periodically cut off from the interstellar travel network. For some time, the planet is connected and Winter is dominant. Then the planet becomes isolated and Summer is dominant. Each of these “seasons” lasts approximately a human generation. The Snow Queen is set at the end of a Winter.

A mission is launched, I'm assuming from the girl's planet, to try to determine why their ability to travel at great speeds is declining. I'm fairly certain the girl goes along on the mission.

This detail doesn't match exactly. Moon is taken off-world, but not specifically to find out about the interstellar travel network. However, something else is under investigation; as far as I recall no link is initially known between this and interstellar travel. This is the sybil phenomenon — some Summers have the power to find out things through a mystical trance. Much of the plot of The Snow Queen and its sequels.

Now I'm not as certain about this part but I believe they run into a ship or station, (something technological) that helps explain what's going on. Any help would be appreciated.

Investigation on technical planets do eventually contribute to revealing what the sybil network is, by the time of the third book, The Summer Queen.

  • Don't think this is it either. Pretty sure the book was a standalone, not a part of a series. Appreciate it though. – DarklingPlain Aug 6 '15 at 0:26
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The bits sound very similar to A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge.

The Milky Way galaxy is divided into Zones of Thought, where the innermost zone closer to the galactic core allows for only minimal forms of biological intelligence. The farther you get from the center, the the more laws of physics change and allow for true biological and artificial intelligence, and faster-than-light travel & communication are commonplace.

It starts out from the perspective of a young girl, or teenager, who lives on a planet other than earth

One of the main protagonists is a young woman named Ravna, who is employed on one of the galactic communication hubs. Along with another human they re-purpose a ship.

For some reason, whatever means humans have been able to travel between these far away planets (warp, wormhole, ftl, etc.) is slowly becoming less accessible

The civilizations in the higher zones are under assault from a one such artificially-created super-intelligence called the Blight. A sleeper ship escapes an earlier devastation on a far-away research lab, where the Blight was created.

A mission is launched, I'm assuming from the girl's planet, to try to determine why their ability to travel at great speeds is declining.

Ravna and her companion launch a mission to trace and retrieve this sleeper ship, which is assumed to have some important information about defeating the super-intelligence.

I believe they run into a ship or station, (something technological) that helps explain what's going on

They do dock at a station for refueling, and some explanations about the back-story of the Blight are revealed.

soon each planet will be cut off from the others

We are getting into spoilers territory here. Sufficed to say that Zones of Thought come to play a large role in the fight against the super-intelligence.

  • Thanks but it's Not Fire Upon the Deep though that is on my too read shelf. I'd say the writing wasn't quite on Vernon Vinge's level. Still trying to remember any more details I can come up with. Thanks for the effort though. – DarklingPlain Aug 5 '15 at 2:31
  • The description is really not consistent with A Fire Upon the Deep. Vinge also wrote a couple of short stories or novellas in the Zones setting, but I don't recall one with a similar plot. @DarklingPlain – user56 Aug 5 '15 at 8:06

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