Starliners, Commercial Spacetravel in 2200 AD

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Starliners, Commercial Spacetravel in 2200 AD, Stewart Cowley
The Hamlyn Group, 1980
92 pp, 41 full color illustrations, 3 b/w illustrations

The fourth and scarcest of the TTA books, Starliners is a comprehensive study of the largest commercial space-faring concerns operating in the 23rd century. An overview of the major companies and their leading vessels is well narrated and amply illustrated. A nice addition are two star maps showing the inhabited star systems. Again, the artwork is inspiring and dynamic, with the usual roster of qualified artists.

Starliners seems to be the most difficult title to acquire on the secondhand market. Most prices I’ve seen land at $40-60 USD. I (sort of) found my the old-fashioned way: in a book store. Specifically, a Half-Price Books outlet in Clive, Iowa of all places. As chance and luck would have it, I was foraging proper ale from a specialty beer seller back to downtown Des Moines when I happened upon the store in the same shopping plaza. The rest is TTA collecting history!




  1. HIM November 7, 2014

    Persistence with ebay can pay off too, scored Starliners and Spacecraft off it for around $50 USD in primo shape.

  2. Tom February 25, 2015

    One of my favorite aspects of Cowley’s universe is the civil-commercial side of it, it isn’t just Big Government Militaries. So I LOVED seeing a book focused on a normally neglected area, that of commercial interstellar transport companies. This one also really develops the TTA-verse by a large amount.

    What’s funny is that just about all the stars named in this book are in reality massive supergiants, giants and really hot short-lived main-sequence dwarfs, none of which are going to have habitable planets, or even planets at all. 🙂

  3. admin February 25, 2015

    Hi Tom…I agree that it’s intriguing to see the non-TTA players in the TTA universe. As for the uninhabitable star systems…I suppose that’s the “fiction” in “science fiction! 😉

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. Tom February 27, 2015

    Yes, it’s fiction, but one of my SF pet peeves is the overuse of well-known “name” stars, e.g. Sirius and Arcturus depsite them being totally unsuitable for having habitable planets. If you want stars that ARE suitable–the G- and upper-K dwarfs–than you have to ignore all the named stars and many of the upper Greek letters in the prominent constellations, and go through the Flamsteed numbers and the HD and HR catalogs. There’s many Sun-like stars out there, it’s just that they’re just so visually faint that most don’t get any kind of proper desgination but just a catalog number.

    Actually, in Spacewreck, I have to give Cowley credit for using Alpha Mensae, a a G5V star that actually CAN have habitable planets. It’s even in the HabCat dataset, a catalog of stars compiled from the Hipparcos catalog by two scientists looking for stars that are capable of hosting an advanced alien civilization, or at least having human-habitable planets. So it has a bit greater-than Sol metallicity, is not variable or binary or some kind of oddball, and has been around long enough for an Earth-like planet to have developed intelligent life (at least as we know it).

    Cowley had to have done some research, as Mensa is one of those obscure modern southern constellations and its Alpha star is even more obscure.

  5. Dave May 2, 2017

    Picked the first three up about 5 years ago but couldn’t find Starliners at a reasonable price at the time. But as luck would have it I had a random check on eBay today and found both Starliners and Spacecraft for $59 USD for the pair! Which is actually perfect for me because when I bought the first three my copy of Spacecraft turned out to not have a dust jacket (seller messed up) and I’d never even been able to find a hi-res image of one to print out a copy. Fingers crossed they arrive in the advertised condition and I’ll finally own the full set and have a spare copy of Spacecraft to onsell.

  6. admin May 15, 2017

    Nice score Dave…that’s a pretty decent price for both. Starliners seems to be the scarcest of the TTA books, presumably because it was the final book issued. I think some of the artwork is even better that Spacecraft or Great Space Battles.

  7. Jorgen May 16, 2017

    I’m trying to identify the artist behind this illustration:
    My best guess is Peter Elson, but I havent been able to confirm it.

  8. admin May 17, 2017

    Hello Jorgen…I’m doubtful that’s a Peter Elson piece (unless it’s an early work). Do you know what the text says along the bottom? To my (untrained) eye, it looks like an early Eddie Jones piece. I didn’t have any luck with a reverse image search either. Was this a book cover illustration? It reminds me of the Jawa sand crawler from Star Wars.

  9. Jorgen May 18, 2017

    Thank you for your reply!
    The illustration was used on the cover of “Jules Verne Magasinet #436, 1989” and the text says: “Sam J. Lundwall Fakta & Fantasi” – the publisher behind the magazine. I’m working on a bibliography for the magazine, and this is one of the covers that I still haven’t been able to identify.

  10. admin May 19, 2017

    Also, if you use Facebook, there is a friendly TTA group with members all over the world…they’re a helpful bunch and might be able to give a positive identity to this artist. Good luck!

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