Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Orbit (4 Nov 2004)
When young Marnie is nearly raped by her step father, she runs away from home, to be with her father Clancy. But he's just become captain of the first starship, and his only solution is to smuggle her aboard.
Hmmm. Well, that's certainly got Busby's signature - sex driving the main plot points. And the other plot point it has is that the ship doesn't have FTL travel, so it's going to be quite a while getting to its destination. However, Busby then complicates matters with a long distance teleport device, one with interesting characteristics. Firstly, it always takes the same time to get to the other end, no matter how far that other end is. And second, that time is quite long (but not as long as the journey to the nearest star). So it acts as an interesting plot device, as people keep popping in and out, using it as a way of skipping months or years into the future, and also evacuating people back to Earth when needed. Of course, evacuees need replacing, and that means that either the replacements were dispatched months before, or there will be months before the far end sends them and more before they arrive.
All of which leads to a slightly theatrical farce feel: when a protagonist's exact whereabouts (or rather lack thereof) can be defined for months in advance, the plot starts feeling mechanical. As one of the story's major ways of outsmarting opposition is to outlive them, the possible tension also dies back.
(Oh, the ship has two teleports: the other is attached to the fuel pipe, thereby allowing the ship to accelerate non-stop and achieve relativistic speeds relatively effectively.)
Some interesting ideas, but not realised as interestingly as it could have been. Fairly enjoyable tosh.