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Cover of 'Spaceship To Saturn' (UK) Cover of 'Spaceship To Saturn' (US)
Cover of 'Voo para Saturno'

Spaceship To Saturn

(PT - Voo para Saturno)


Publishing details:

UK: Faber, 1967, in print until about 1975, h/b.
US: Criterion Books, 1967.
PT: Edições Dêagã, 1975.

Synopsis:

UNEXA has decided to launch a ship to explore Saturn. However, as the length of the journey would prove unpleasant for the crew, it has been decided to use a new freezing technique, 'hypothermia'. It seems nonetheless that the mission must be cancelled due to a massive increase in meteor activity in the region of Saturn - radio is far too slow to allow the computer on Earth to manoeuvre the ship to avoid these meteors. The solution - instantaneous telepathy. It is found that Gill and Gail still communicate a carrier wave while under hypothermia, and telemetry can then be modulated on to this. A landing is attempted on Io, but problems occur and it turns out to be necessary to fly the ship through the Cassini division - a tiny gap in the rings of Saturn.....

Commentary:

Another cracking good read. The hypothermia concept is covered in convincing detail in the early sections of the book, and went on to be used in all subsequent missions.

An interesting continuity error crops up, at least in the UK edition, relating to the history of Gill & Gail:
'The astronauts remembered how one of the girls had accompanied them on their long voyage to Jupiter. Then the uncanny gift of telepathy had proved its worth, crossing the millions of miles of space instantaneously. Indeed, the expedition had been saved from disaster by the twins' strange power. Radio communication, because of the vast distance from Control, would have been too slow to save the ship, but the signal flashed between the two girls had enabled it to be diverted from a collision course with a derelict deep space satellite.'


Now, the problem is that this happened in 'Mission To Mercury', not 'Journey To Jupiter'. Very strange. This paragraph is much less specific in the US edition.

Reviews:

'This book concerns the first manned space flight to Saturn and the preparations leading up to it. It is, I believe, intended for 12- to 16-year-olds and in reviewing it I felt that I must take the viewpoint of such a young person - in fact, by what standards did I judge a book at that age?
'Unfortunately the book tends to be rather slow, being mainly taken up with preparations for the journey - this is, I feel, not a point in its favour. From a more sophisticated viewpoint the characters are a trifle naïve for astronauts, but should be easy to identify with. Technically, the book is fairly competent.
'This book should prove a reasonable introduction to sf, as it contains all the stock sf plot devices - telepathy, space flight (of course), and cryonics (or hypothermia as Mr Walters calls it).' D.G.Bishop, Vector Magazine #47, Nov 1967

'Hugh Walters gets his well-known company of young explorers all the way to Saturn by dint of hypothermia or 'freezing', but this is nothing to the excitement that greets them when they awake. Spaceship to Saturn, in spite of telepathic communication and other marvels of science and psychology, keeps its feet on the ground and carres conviction.' The Times Educational Supplement

Spells on the Slab
ARTHUR MARSHALL

Spaceship to Saturn by HUGH WALTERS
Faber 16 s
Writers of space-fiction must, one does see,
keep several jumps ahead of actual current
achievement. In Spaceship to Saturn, flights
to the moon and the nearer planets have be-
come chicken-feed to Chris and his chums
Serge (from Murmansk), Morrey and Tony
and now it's heigh-ho for Saturn and those
pretty rings. The problem of communica-
tion en route is solved by including one of
the Patrick twins who are the happy posses-
sors of Instant Telepathy but in other ways
geared to reality (living in a bungalow at
Chislehurst). And for the nine-months jour-
ney through space there is hypothermia, a
process which deep-freezes the travellers in
their cabin where they remain as immobile
and undemanding as a carton of fish
fingers.
After the absorbing preparations for the
trip ('Gosh, we've missed lunch') and a hy-
pothermia try-out ('Would one of you care
to have another short spell on the slab?'),
they duly blast-off from the spaceport at
Lunar City ('I still don't like the local food'),
the astute Sir George Benson prudently
directing proceedings from a building in
Theobalds Road. The expedition is, need
one add, entirely successful but with
moments of danger (a ripped hull) and
drama (failure of lateral rocket) that are
going to appeal greatly to youngish
readers.
New Statesman
26th May 1967.