The Silent Stars Go By
Ballantine, 1991. Novel, 189,250 words.
James White's own favouritie James White novel. He got the
catchy title from listening to 'O, Little Town of Bethlehem' at
a carol concert* The parallel-universe Hibernian Empire has
risen to supreme power, with the help of applied Old World technology
(Hero's steam engine, etc.) and new World natural resources (Brendan
the navigator pre-empted Columbus by some five hundred years).
Now the starship Aisling Gheal and its crew extend Oirish manifest
destiny to outer space. Healer Nolan, an unbeliever in the
priest-kings of Gor -- sorry, Hibernia -- finds himself pitted against
the ultra-conservative Monsignor O'Riordan. I lapped it up.
Mind you, I also think that Darby O'Gill and the Little People is
a piece of grim documentary realism.
*"WHEN IRISH SPIES ARE SMILING" makes for a somewhat less dignified
Synopsis by graham Andrews
Ballantine/Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-37110-0, September 1991