The Stars Like Dust by Isaac Asimov
Biron Farrill is finishing college on a radiated Earth. He is ready to graduate just as someone tries to murder him. A radiation bomb is planted in his room. Sander Jonti, a casual acquaintance of Biron’s, helps Biron escape. He informs Biron of Biron’s father’s death at the hand of the Tyranni, the rulers of the known worlds.
Biron follows Jonti’s suggestions and goes to Rhodia. There he hopes to find assistance in reclaiming his family’s land. Yet the Director of Rhodia, Hinrick V, is a befuddled puppet of the Tyranni. Biron unexpectedly discovers helps in other family members; Hinrick’s daughter and brother help him escape another threatening situation.
The trio steal a Tyranni spaceship and head for the planet they felt would be the home of the rebellion against the Tyranni. They have no knowledge of the technology that let the Tyranni track their own ships no matter where they are in space.
This is early Asimov (published in the early 1950’s), and one of his least favorite books. He allowed the end to be rewritten to introduce a new subplot that he did not care for. It’s not the best Asimov, but even mediocre Asimov is worth reading in my opinion.
As soon as I started reading I knew I had read this book before. I don’t remember how long ago, and had not retained the story in my head. Yet I remembered enough to not be surprised at anything, and make too many accurate predictions. I knew what the watch early in the book revealed before Asimov started setting the plot for us.