The Gold at the Starbow's End
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|"The Gold at the Starbow's End"|
|Publication date||March 1972|
"The Gold at the Starbow's End" is a
Pohl later expanded the novella into a full-length novel, which was published in 1982 under the name Starburst.
The story is told with two narrative devices—reports from members of the crew of the U.S. Starship Constitution alternating with a traditional
In the first report from the starship, the reader learns that the ship is approximately one month into a multi-year journey to the
As the story progresses, the reader is told that the existence of the planet Alpha-Aleph is a hoax, perpetrated not only on the American people but also on the crew of the starship. The true purpose of the mission is to place the crew in a position where they will have nothing to do other than study mathematics. The hoax was the idea of Knefhausen, who believes that, if deprived of any other means of recreation, the crew will succeed in making scientific breakthroughs that will then be broadcast back to Earth. Knefhausen's theory proves true, but he learns that the crew quickly becomes bored with technological applications of their new-found mathematical prowess. Instead, they become increasingly interested in using it to develop their understanding of art and philosophy. These new understandings give the crew an unusual control over the physical universe and, by the end of the story, they have achieved god-like powers.
The word "starbow" in the story's title is a word coined by one of the characters on the starship. It refers to the rainbow-like effect seen when stars are undergoing a