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Ship of Fools

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,445 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Home to generations of humans, the starship Argonos has wandered aimlessly throughout the galaxy for hundreds of years, desperately searching for other signs of life. Now an unidentified transmission lures them toward a nearby planet-and into the dark heart of an alien mystery.
Paperback, 370 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Ace (first published 2001)
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Blindsight by Peter WattsShip of Fools by Richard Paul RussoHull Zero Three by Greg BearHyperion by Dan SimmonsDeath Troopers by Joe Schreiber
Space horror
2nd out of 78 books — 126 voters
Seed of Evil by Robert FriedrichI Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard MathesonShip of Fools by Richard Paul Russo1984 by George OrwellThe Strain by Guillermo del Toro
Great Sci Fi-Horror Books
3rd out of 35 books — 58 voters

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Community Reviews

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mark monday
spoilers ahead

last week my mom and i had a conversation about God that devolved into an unpleasant argument, with mom saying some things that i found to be ludicrous beyond belief and with me responding with comments that were condescending and offensive. last week i read a book called Ship of Fools; it is a dark and grim science fiction narrative about a colony ship trying to find a new home, written in a polished and straightforward style, and it is has one major concern: the question of evil
Ship of Fools is atmospheric science fiction with a great premise, which unfortunately runs short out of realizing its full potential. It combines motifs traditionally associated with classic science fiction - space exploration and first contact - and establishes a creepy and suspenseful mood throughout, slowly building its central theme: who are they, and who are we?

The eponymous ship is the Argonos, a massive vessel traversing through the deep space for decades, its original mission long forgo
May 09, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who don't listen when the haunted house says "Get out!"
This is the book that the movie Prometheus should have been: tense, scary, intelligent, with a building sense of dread that starts working its way up your spine the first time things start going awry, and gets worse and worse after each time the characters reach another level of We Are So F***ed.

The Argonos is a generation ship, run by an Executive Council with nominal authority over the Captain. The first part of the book is largely political machinations: we learn that the Argonos has lost its
5 Stars

Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo is a surprise of hit to me. This is the first time that I have read this author, but surely not the last. Russo has created a wonderful piece of survival science fiction that has a bit of a horror feel as well. This is not hard science, and it is easily accessible to those that normally veer from the genre.

Russo drops us right into the middle of the story. I am not going to summarize much as it would spoil this adventure. The writing, the plot, and the
Titled "Unto Leviathan" in England from whence it came, this story really captured my imagination. As I am a sucker for atmosphere, the generational starship on which most of the story takes place is filled with it. The dynastic aspect of the leadership, the striation of the crew by social class, the religious influence on the masses; all of it subject to the view of the protagonist. He is perhaps the sole well rounded person in the story, and though he is intelligent, he is not the only smart c ...more
Ship of Fools, Richard Paul Russo, Ace Books, 2001

The multi-generation starship Argonos has aimlessly wandered the galaxy for hundreds of years, searching for any signs of life. Its original mission and destination have long ago been forgotten. Returning to Earth is not an option, for it has become a toxic, irradiated wasteland.

A mysterious signal draws the ship to an abandoned colony on an Earth-like planet. Nikko, the ship’s captain, barely averts a mutiny as several hundred passengers would r
Spooky scary spaceship happenings! In some ways a let down because a lot went unexplained. Nevertheless, it kept up a great atmosphere throughout so I still enjoyed it. I wish it wrapped things up more definitively though. Blindsight and Hull Zero Three (this book's stablemates in the tiny subgenre of space horror) both managed that a lot better.

Random notes:
- Faith and Christianity are big themes in this book, but it didn't bother me too much because it added some flavour to the usual generatio
For me, Ship of Fools was the textual equivalent of the movie Event Horizon: a setup replete with all the requisite elements for a creepy, sinister exploration of the potentiality for chiaroscuro alien horror within the deadening blackness of infinite space fizzles and limps to a disappointing ending through a lack of either courage or imagination upon the part of the author. I love the premise: a vast spaceship - the Argonos - engaged upon a generation-spanning trek across the galaxy, purpose u ...more
The story is told through the eyes of Bartolomeo, a prickly fellow born deformed and raised by adults who he assumes knew his parents. He lives on a starship that has been wandering throughout the galaxy for centuries. All those on board had been born there. The purpose of their voyage remains elusive, and the archives that would give the passengers a sense of their past have been destroyed. It has been 14 years since the ship, called the Argonos, has visited a human habitation.

As the story begi
A promising start, interesting characters, and some ambitious questions. Unfortunately, it all falls apart in an anticlimactic ending.

Imagine this conversation and -- SPOILER WARNING -- you'll have the book in a nutshell:

"That ship is evil."
"There's no such thing as evil."
"That ship is evil."
"Evil may exist, but that ship isn't it."
"That ship is evil."
"Oh my god! That ship is evil!"
Roddy Williams
‘For Hundreds of years the Argonos, home to generations of humans, has trawled the galaxy searching for other signs of life. Now, a steady unidentified transmission has lured the ship to a remote planet.

On the surface the crew find evidence of a colony – but no inhabitants. Until they discover a trail deep into the planet’s steamy jungles, and their terrifying fate is revealed to them.

But this is only the first message.’

Blurb from the 2003 Orbit paperback edition

This is the novel that the movie
Although not the greatest Science fiction I have ever read, I still count this as one of the better stories and enjoyable reads I have had in my sci-fi life. The author produces real terror as you read the pages, which FLY by. As the cover suggests, this is much like the movie alien, but better because it is in book form.

I loved this book but I cannot give it a 5 for three reasons.

1. It is just too dark. I don't generally prefer super dark books, and I think the problem with this is that the shi
The book cover hooked my eye. I didn't know that the author, Richard Paul Russo, had won the Philip K. Dick Award for this work, his second. I'd never even heard of him. I was looking for someone new to try so I read the back cover.

No one remembers where they came from or where they're going. For hundreds of years, the starship Argonos, home to generations of humans, has wandered throughout the galaxy, searching for other signs of life. Now, a steady, unidentified transmission lures them toward
Caleb Combs
Unbelievable. Absolutely one of my favorite works of all time. This novel took every one of my silly institutionalized expectations developed over the years of literary criticism and research and simply undermined them into unnecessary formulations of prose. Russo, killed the game right here if you ask me.

Although, this may not be one of the most literary pieces; I still find that analysis could take place on several channels. There is plenty to observe, learn and discuss in this book. The eco
You know, when you read a book and you have that feeling that you're holding, in your hand, a little piece of the author's soul? That's Ship of Fools. It's beautifully written, you learn to love the characters, even the despicable ones because they're grey; they are human beings with good and bad sides.

Bartolomeo is a magnificent main character and his romance with Father Veronica got to me. I'm not much of a romance-oriented gal, but this felt genuine and I was glad Father Veronica didn't break
Sic Transit Gloria
The protagonist (I don't remember how to spell the main characters name) is an important adviser to the captain of a generation ship. Unfortunately, there's a lot of tension on the ship, what with the captain not having an heir and the local religious leader (the bishop) elbowing his way into power and oh yeah, the planet full of dead people they just found. Later, they find an empty alien ship. Now they must decide what to do: Explore at risk of life and limb or run for their lives.

This book wa
Jack Keane
Beautifully written and does a fantastic job of building steady tension throughout the book, the themes of religion are there but never really elaborated on which is a shame because they added some weight to the story and helped flesh out a society we know very little about.
The problem I have with this book is the exact same as everybody else, and I am of the opinion that leaving the end of a story to the reader's imagination is pure laziness 9/10 times and this is no exception, in fact it is wo
Why did this win the PKD award? It was just mediocre. I mean really, the characters... I could care less about them. There was a midget..a smart midget who makes up for his short stature with tact. Sounds like Game of Thrones to me. There's only room for one of those midget archetypes in the literary world. The whole thing was very anti climactic. I won't say what you never get to figure out, but it's pretty major. I was praying the whole time that all the sub par unlikable characters get sucked ...more
Casey Hampton
I dig the basis of this book. A generational spaceship has been exploring so long that it's forgotten its purpose (coughing-allegory). They find a planet that has evidence of horrible stuff that happened to the planet's inhabitants. The explorers quickly depart only to discover an enormous alien spaceship adrift. Next, they explore the alien spaceship and discover, wait for it, wait for it, horrible stuff that happened to what appears to be humans that mirror what they found on the planet.

Good build up. Doesn't deliver. Evil alien hijinks drive the plot along without any rhyme or reason. Are they shape shifters? Are they cannibals? Can they control minds? Are they Satan incarnate? Yes! Or no! Whatever! New danger shows up, maybe kills somebody, then is left dangling and unresolved. The characters proceed to make bad decisions like they're in a cheesy horror movie. Towards the end, I wouldn't have been surprised if a zombie redneck torture family emerged out of cocoons on an aster ...more
Renee Wolcott
This is a wretched book. I think I bought it because I love the other Richard Russo so much. Don't make the same mistake. This is science fiction at its worst, full of plot holes and dangling threads. An ill-defined alien threat, some religious symbolism, and random character development do not a story make.
This book promised more than it delivered. I was intrigued at the beginning, but the story stalled toward the end. Many of the threads in the story were not resolved and the ending was ultimately not satisfying for me. Too many unanswered questions. Maybe a sequel is on the way?!
Imagine been stuck on a spaceship with religious fanatics, social segregation, NO destination, NO home planet to go back to,vague guesses of the origin and purpose of the ship and you the inhabitants and lets not forget the aliens! Extremely depressing and chilling book.
Fantasy Literature
Richard Paul Russo published Ship of Fools in 2001 and it won the Philip K Dick Award for that year. I read it when it came out but only remembered two or three scenes from it (powerful scenes, though, I should say). The re-read surprised me and maybe disappointed me slightly. One thing seems clear. In 2001 Russo was playing with concepts that would show up in later writers’ work with regularity in the intervening fourteen years; the “generation ship” and the idea of a social and economic underc ...more
Tamelia Wooten
not to sure about what i think.....

the book ended and i still had questions? what did the aliens want? why were they killing people or did they kill each others? mass suicide? what happened to the people who were on the ship that decided to leave? did they die too? did the aliens go back to the planet and kill them?

but i also made the mistake of reading other peoples review while reading the book.... i didnt get into the whole evil thing. i just saw the aliens for what they were... aliens.

i didn

Let's talk about the reasons why I didn't give this book 5 stars. First, let me say: I was certain I was going to give the book a 5-star review right up until the very last page. Therein was the book's downfall.

Backtracking: for those not in the know, the book starts with the starship Argonos, which floats aimlessly throughout the universe. No one is exactly sure how long the ship has functioned, though the general consensus amongst people is for hundreds of years. It is a lonely place to be, an

Désolé mais je n'ai pas éprouvé ce fameux "sens of wonder" malgré un thème (une nef lancée dans un voyage apparemment sans fin ...) qui habituellement m'enchante Impossible aussi d'accrocher aux différents personnages Peut être est ce du à la traduction en français mais même le style narratif m'a profondément irrité Je crois être allergique à ces histoires mettant en scène des pseudos dirigeants religieux trop stéréotypés dans leurs comportements et réflexions. Dommage, car ce livre m'a été de n ...more
Scott Belisle
I picked this book up on a whim back in college at a local used book-store called the book bin. To my surprise, I loved the book, and re-readings haven't changed that yet. A wonderful meditation on the nature of evil and the meaning or meaninglessness of faith in an uncaring universe. It has great callbacks to other sci fi horror media such as Alien as well.

Not the greatest novel ever written by any means, but worth a read if you're looking for sci fi more focused on the human than the mechanic
I get the feeling that this book is going to stay with me for a long time. It has, what some folks refer to as, resonance. I didn't find it to be much of a page turner, not in the traditional sense (meaning that I was blowing through it as quickly as I could). But at the same time there was a momentum to the novel that did make me always want to find out what was going to happen next.

Buuuuuuttt.... then again, I almost gave it 3 stars, I didn't, in case you were wondering. Mostly because after
Daniel Roy
I've been obsessed with SF depictions of weird, unknowable aliens ever since I read the fantastic Blindsight. Russo's book was recommended as an entry in this select genre (dark SF?), and although it offers some tantalizingly incomprehensible aliens, I'm sorry to say it's no Blindsight.

The near totality of the novel takes place on the Argonos, a generation ship that has been wandering for so long that some of its more religious passengers believe that the ship has always existed. In this, it rem
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