o this was one from the recovered attic book boxes, a rollicking space opera in a strange universe. On Pluto (according to backstory), giant cylinders were discovered with a road leading into them. If you went fast enough and stayed right on the center line, you’d pop through to another planet. Eventually enough gates were mapped to establish the Terrain Maze, a collection of planets that we’ve colonized. But there are other gates, pot lock portals, that lead God knows where. And every so often, on these mega freeways, strange aliens in stranger cars can be seen.
Our protagonist in this tale is Jake, an interstellar trucker whose rig (a massive and automated truck) contains the simulated personality of his late father Sam. While making a run he picks up Darla, a beautiful hitchhiker, just in time to bump into the head of the rival trucker collective in a roadside café. Gunfire is exchanged and daring escapes are made. A creature (and former bellhop) from a shmaltzy jungle-themed lodge joins them and off they go, popping through portals as a web of intrigue tightens around them.
I remembered liking this one when I read it first time, way back in 1983 or so. And I gotta say, it was eerie how certain scenes (for example, a ferryboat made from a gigantic leviathan that opens its maw and allows cars to park in its inert stomach) rose like ghosts around me as I read. I had enough it the plot in my long-term to see the surprises just before they sprang. But no matter – Starrigger was a fun novel, a great opener to a set (which I have all three of). If you are a Han Solo fan and love the well-worn trope of an intergalactic hauler outrunning and outsmarting his foes, this one’s for you.
And hey, I noticed it’s been reprinted, so you can check it out yourself and see what you think.