The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Nova portrays the rivalry between Lorq Von Ray and Prince Red, heirs to interstellar economic empires. The Reds are based in Draco and the Von Rays in the Pleiades Federation, which rebelled against Draco to gain its independence. Nova’s other central characters are two starship crewmen—Mouse, a young Gypsy master of the sensory syrynx, an instrument that creates impressions for all five senses, and Katin, a novelist in his mid-twenties.

As Nova opens, the Red-Von Ray rivalry has calmed. A new development concerning Illyrion, however, renews hostilities. Illyrion is a rare element that powers everything, including starships. Originally manufactured atom by atom, in Lorq’s day Illyrion is mined in greater quantities.

Because the Pleiades Federation’s planets are closer together than Draco’s, transportation costs are lower. This helps the Pleiades-based Von Rays in their competition with Draco’s Reds. As the Illyrion mines ex-pand, transportation costs will drop even further. Soon, the Reds will lose their ability to compete. Before this can take place, Prince Red decides to attack the Von Rays.

To beat the Reds’ offensive, Lorq Von Ray must drastically and rapidly reduce the price of Illyrion. He decides to fly into a nova and retrieve the tons of Illyrion found there, a maneuver made possible by a nova’s severe spatial distortions. With tons of Illyrion, Von Ray can flood the market.

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(The entire section is 508 words.)