The story of Roger Powell, a painter who is hired by a star ship that builds mega structures. It was hired by Roger’s home world to build a string station, a station that would allow allow practical travel to a nearby star and hopefully revitalize a planetary economy.
This system has never been visited and sending a probe would take too long, so they are taking a chance and sending the Erickson. It will take a year and a half to get there, and up to seven years to build the station itself.
Roger becomes a pilot en route, and meets a women he thinks he may love.
When constructing the station the star goes nova and they are forced to flee to a system where they may have detected the alien life humanity has ever encountered.
They arrive with less then two months worth of supplies and a ship that should have some time in a dry dock.