Science Fiction Books/Old Space Opera Novel

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Hi I'm trying to track down an old space opera novel I read at least 20 years ago. I have the feeling it was old then - picked it up at a second hand store.

Storyline follows young man who is living on a planet that was used as a prison by a human federation. I have the feeling the planet was named "Coventry" He and his companions are children of prisoners rather than prisoners themselves.

He and his companions attempt by various means to access landing fields that are protected by force shields that fry anyone attempting entry. These were enclaves of the prison guards - I think they were called 'monitors'.

The federation was involved in a war and there have been no sightings of the monitors for some time, but many of the inhabitants of the planet are actual prisoners so they have only been isolated for 20 or so years.

Access was gained into a space port by climbing a wall where the sensors for the defensive weapons had decayed. The group then accessed an interplanetary craft and set off to try to find out what had happened to the federation.

The solar system they were in was unusual in that there were two planets in the same orbit but opposite sides of the sun. One planet was the prison and its location was kept secret, the other was a resort planet and this was the groups destination.

At some point it is revealed that one member of the group is actually a monitor who volunteered to stay behind to assist the prisoners in escaping when the time was right.

The general style of the novel was close to that of H Beam Piper and the technology level was very similar to the federation he envisaged.

Spacecraft came in 2 flavours - hyperships capable of ftl travel and spacecraft only capable of travel within solar systems.

antigravity tech existed - referred to as contragravity.

I hope that I'm not mixing my recollections as I've been an avid reader for many years and they do tend to blur a little.

Thanks in Advance,

Scott

Answer
Very clear and lucid description, but unfortunately I never read this book.

For a book about a prison planet, I can highly recommend Infinity Hold by Barry Longyear, long out of print but worth looking for.  Not a space opera, but a thinking person's look at how a prison planet with no wardens or authority might evolve into a society. If you like Infinity Hold, there are two sequels, but nowhere near as interesting as the first, and much harder to find in used bookstores or online.

Good luck finding your book.

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Sue Kayton

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Engineer who has read thousands of science fiction books and short stories. Can recommend stories on specific subjects and comment on technical feasibility. Especially good at older out-of-print books and authors.

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