Homeward Bound (novel)

Homeward Bound (novel)

Infobox Book |
name = Homeward Bound

image_caption = First edition cover
author = Harry Turtledove
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
genre = Science fiction novel, alternate history novel
publisher = Del Rey Books
release_date = 28 December 2004
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 608 pp (first edition, hardback)
isbn = ISBN 0-345-45846-X (firstf edition, hardback)
preceded_by =

The novel "Homeward Bound" is a science fiction alternate history. Written by Harry Turtledove and released in 2004, it forms the eighth work in his "Tosev timeline" fictional universe. It follows the events of the Colonization trilogy, and gives some closure to the storylines.

Plot introduction

Homeward Bound begins in 1972, then flashes forward to 1977, 1982, 1984, 1994, 2012, and finally to 2031 when the American starship "Admiral Peary" arrives at Tau Ceti and Home, the homeworld of the Race.

Explanation of the novel's title

Homeward Bound has multiple meanings in the book. It is a pun, in that the Race's home planet is called Home, and many characters are headed there. For characters that are members of the Race, such as Ttomalss, Atvar, and Straha, they are headed home after the failed conquest of Earth. For Kassquit, it is her cultural home, although not her biological one. The Earth ship "Admiral Peary" is headed to Home (the planet), where they will confront the Race and try to demand respect as an independent planet (or at least for the United States).

At the end of the novel, while most of the ship's crew has been in cryogenic sleep and suffered time dilation, they are given the chance to go back to Earth (their home). As each character arrives, they handle their return in the best way they can.

Plot summary

The "Admiral Peary" travels at approximately one-third "c" and took a little over 30 years, instead of 24 (the Race's starship velocities were one-half "c"), to cross the twelve light years between Earth and Tau Ceti. The ship is named "Admiral Peary" for its role as a military exploration ship, after Adm. Robert Peary, who did the same in Arctic exploration.

When the "Admiral Peary" arrives in orbit around Home, the Race's planet in the Tau Ceti system, it causes a crisis in the highest levels of the Race. The Race's Emperor Risson and Fleetlord Atvar (sent back to Home, with the dubious distinction of being the only Fleetlord not to conquer a planet) argue the merits and drawbacks of attempting to destroy mankind by massive nuclear strikes. Meanwhile, Researcher Ttomalss investigates reports of a major breakthrough by human scientists back on Earth.

The Race inadvertently cause themselves a possible ecological disaster - similar to what they are causing on Earth with the Race's introduced species into the Earth's ecosystems - by letting the humans' caged rats loose on Home. The rats were used for food testing for the Humans.

It comes as a great shock to the Race when a human starship (the "Commodore Perry") arrives in orbit around Home, having traveled the twelve light years in just five weeks. The faster-than-light drive (which appears to be based on the principle of folding space) allows the crew to return to Earth, which is familiar, yet different, from how they left it. Another pun is the ship's captain Nicole Nichols, inspired by "Star Trek's" Lieutenant Uhura but playing off the actress' real name. The ship is named "Commodore Perry" for its role in opening up the Race's empire to US access, after Cdre. Matthew C. Perry, who did the same with Japan.

Characters in "Homeward Bound"

* Sam Yeager - United States Ambassador to the Race & foremost human expert on the Race
* Jonathan Yeager - Expert on the Race, member of ambassadorial team, son of Sam Yeager, married to Karen Yeager
* Karen Yeager - Expert on the Race, married to Jonathan Yeager
* Glen Johnson - A scooter pilot and third highest ranking ship pilot of the "Admiral Peary"
* Atvar - Fleetlord of the Race. Was in charge of Conquest Fleet that originally invaded Earth (Tosev 3)
* Ttomalss - Senior Researcher and psychologist of the Race. Foremost expert on the psychology of humans. 'Father' of Kassquit
* Kassquit - Researcher for the Race, human raised in the manner of the Race, only Tosevite citizen of the Empire
* 37th Emperor Risson - The current Emperor of the Empire. (Note: Risson is not the 37th Emperor, but rather the 37th Emperor to bear the name "Risson".)

Major themes

Diplomacy is a major theme of the novel. The humans spend their time trying to convince the Race that they are not dangerous barbarians. However, this is a mindset that the previously-technologically-superior Race has, and they will not be dissuaded. The Americans are negotiating from a position of weakness, but both sides know that it is only time until that position becomes one of greater strength.

Allusions/references to other works

The book references characters and events that happened in the other novels of Harry Turtledove's Tosev timeline.

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science

The novel references historical events prior to 1942 (during World War II), at which point the Race invades and attempts to conquer Earth. It is at this point that history diverges.


Mickey and Donald, two Lizard hatchlings raised as human by Sam and Jonathan Yeager, are named after Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

In this alternate history James Dean did not die in a car crash and made several more movies.

A Lizard detective called Garanpo, has been written to be an alien version of Lieutenant Columbo.

"Rescuing Private Renfall" is the name of a James Dean movie watched by Sam Yeager on Home. The movie is based on "Saving Private Ryan".

Release details

*2004, USA, Del Rey Books ISBN 0-345-45846-X, Pub date 28 December 2004, hardback (First edition)
*2005, UK, Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0-340-73482-5, Pub date 11 April 2005, hardback
*2005, USA, Del Rey Books ISBN 0-345-45847-8, Pub date 27 December 2005, paperback
*2005, UK, Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0-340-73483-3, Pub date 24 October 2005, paperback

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