Bart Steele has been off at the Space Academy and hasn’t seen his father in years. When he goes to meet him at a Lhari space station, Mr. Steele never shows up. Instead, he sends an agent with a message for Bart. The Lhari, an intelligent alien race, suspect that Bart’s dad has stolen the secret of their warp drive. If so, this means humans will be able to manufacture their own warp drives and the Lhari will no longer have a monopoly on out-of-system space travel. The Lhari are trying to hunt down Mr. Steele and Bart is in danger, too.
Off goes Bart to try to find his father and his father’s secrets. All he knows is that the secret to the Lhari space drive has something to do with an eighth color that humans have never seen before (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s science is a little off here. Well, a lot off, but let’s just ignore that, shall we? Because the idea is so lovely, even if it’s scientifically ridiculous. I don’t want to be Professor Party Pooper.).
The Colors of Space is a lot like one of the Heinlein Juveniles I read as a kid. The story is simple, Bart is a competent and likeable fellow and, although there is some grief for Bart, the story comes to a sweet, if predictable, end. There is just a bit of appropriate social commentary about the warlike nature of humans and some lovely imagery as Bart contemplates the beautiful colors of space. (I won’t mention again about the scientific implausibility of that.)
I listened to Jim Roberts narrate the CD version of The Colors of Space that Brilliance Audio has recently released (it’s been available at Audible since 2010). Roberts isn’t the best reader, but he gives the book an old-fashioned feel that I liked in this case. The Colors of Space is five hours long on audio and is appropriate for any age. You can get a free version for Kindle, then you can buy the Audible edition with Whispersync for only $2.99. (Please don’t tell Brilliance Audio that I told you this. It was nice of them to send me a free copy of The Colors of Space to review.)