The sails were the product of the Old Technology, lost long ago in the depleted Earth, and they were priceless. For with those fantastic sheets of etheric material, ships could sail the sky and even brave the radiant tides between worlds and stars.
The alchemists who had replaced scientists still sough the ancient secrets, and Rachad, apprentice to such a would-be wizard, learned that the key to his quest lay in a book abandoned in a Martian colonial ruin long, long ago.
But how to get to Mars There was one way left - take a sea vessel, caulk it airtight, steal new sails and fly the star winds in the way of the ancient windjammers.
Here is an intriguing, unusual and colourful novel of ships that sail the stars riding before the solar breeze that blows between worlds.
Barrington J. Bayley (1937-2008) was born in Birmingham and began writing science fiction in his early teens. After serving in the RAF, he took up freelance writing on features, serials and picture strips, mostly in the juvenile field, before returning to straight SF. He was a regular contributor to the influential New Worlds magazine and an early voice in the New Wave movement.