Vintage Treasures: Heritage of Flight by Susan Shwartz
Cover by Wayne Barlowe
Susan Shwartz has had a fine career, with five Nebula nominations for short fiction under her belt, a Hugo nom, and other accolades. She’s produced over a dozen novels, including Queensblade (1988), Arabesques: More Tales of the Arabian Nights (1988), and Hostile Takeover (2004).
Her 1989 novel Heritage of Flight was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. It began life as a pair of novellas published in Analog, “Heritage of Flight (April 1983) and “Survivor Guilt” (February 1986). Not everyone found the blend even; here’s part of one of the more detailed Good Reads reviews (from reviewer Jon).
It starts of excellently with some really good, thought through, detailed SF – A space battle, not unlike Battlestar Galactica (The modern version) in some respects, but more engaging technically. Unfortunately the whole middle section of the book is ‘wild frontier’ stuff with virtually no real ‘Sci’ in it at all – you could imagine it being set in the Wild West or Australian Outback with few changes (Think Little House on the Prarie (sic) for adults).
Ian Sales has a lengthy and thoughtful (though very spoilery!) review at SF Mistressworks. Here’s an excerpt.
The Alliance is at war with the Secessionists and has been for many years. It is not going well for either side. Pauli Yeager is a fighter pilot aboard an Alliance battleship, operating in a flotilla of three such ships. But a battle with a Secessionist ship and its fighters goes badly, and Yeager’s ship is forced to flee… The battleship is carrying a number of refugees from a world nuclear-bombed by the Secessionists, most of which are children. These, and a handful of the battleship’s crew – including its captain and Yeager – are landed on the uninhabited world of Cynthia…
Unfortunately, it seems the initial survey of Cynthia was somewhat slipshod – the planet is inhabited. The colonists quickly establish relations with the primitive flying Cynthians. The other wildlife is less welcoming.
Heritage of Flight was published by Tor Books in April 1989. It is 338 pages, priced at $3.95 in paperback, with a cover by Wayne Barlowe. It was reprinted in digital format by Gateway / Orion in 2012 as part of the SF Gateway imprint.