Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Brute Orbits” as Want to Read:
Brute Orbits
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Brute Orbits

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  14 reviews
In this innovative and powerful new novel, noted SF writer George Zebrowski weaves a tale in which conflicted hearts and minds find new ways to war over the great prize of history called justice. Here, in a Draconian social experiment, a politically conservative earth government begins to transport asteroid/space colonies filled with prisoners into long-term orbits. The re ...more
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Eos (first published 1998)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Brute Orbits, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Brute Orbits

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 150)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Winner of the John W. Campbell award in 1999 for best novel, this is definitely a book that won't appeal to everyone. The premise is interesting: in the late 21st century, asteroids are brought into near Earth orbit to be mined and then converted into orbital prisons once the mining is over with. A hollowed out asteroid is placed into a solar orbit that will bring it back around in 10, 20, 50, or 100 years, however long the prison term of those particular internees is. Or not. Deliberate errors ...more
Frank Parsons
Beware! This book gives you the old bait and switch. You think you're getting a science fiction story of criminals being loaded into a hollow asteroid and sent on a long tour of the solar system with all the fighting and brutality of a prison , but what you're really getting is social commentary on the part criminals and political activists play in the evolution of civilization. As a bonus, you get some remarkable theorizing about small, totally isolated mini-civilzations that spring up inside o ...more
Jeremy Kohlman
An excellent and interesting foray into crime and punishment. Thoroughly enjoyed the philosophizing and speculating. The story and characters were highly interesting as well. Although I must say, the lack of a single character spanning the entire book may make it unappealing to some readers. It may give the feeling of a lack of continuity. That said, I personally don't feel that it overly detracted from the books impact and importance.

If you are one who finds any facination in the study of crime
Title: Brute Orbits: They sent away the good, the bad, and they ugly. They had no idea what they lost.


This is the story of the Rocks and the “long orbits”. In the not to distant future the rising costs of the correctional system, and the rising populace of those incarcerated within, has the countries of the world looking for new ways and places to deal with those that cannot follow the rules of the society that they live in.

An answer comes in the form of an asteroid that narrowly misses h

This book is not a traditional character driven novel. Instead the character in this story is truly the situation, the asteroid prisons themselves and how they evolve over time. It is truly an inventive concept and worth the read for anyone who likes thought pieces, criminal justice stories or anyone with an eye for dystopian futures. Either way this book taught me a lot and is one of the rare, novel stories I've read as an adult.
Surprisingly dense little book which philosophises extensively on the morality, method, history and purpose of imprisonment while telling a jolly little story (sort of) about successive generations of Crims In Space (sort of). Not what I'd expected; a very pleasant surprise. Shall be chasing up more of this fella's work.
Please note: The Goodreads description referring to Tau Ceti IV does not belong with Brute Orbits.

This isn't really a novel in the usual sense. Starting with the premise that Earth uses mined-out asteroids as prisons sent on long orbits around the Sun, a lot of the book is Zebrowski reciting a future history mixed with his social views on crime, justice, the causes of law-breaking and of [legal] socailly-harmful actions of elites, and the social structures related to these matters. While there i
It seems unlikely that anyone would read the description of this book and not expect some violence, or even a rape scene. One might expect that to have some effect on the character, though. Here, we just move on to the next philosophical point.

I actually found most of the philosophizing interesting, and the idea that our criminality is part of our humanity. This seemed like an essay with some fictional elements. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, so maybe that's intentional.
Joe Sargent
The premise of this book is excellent. Build prisons on near earth astroids to house an ever increasing population of criminals and send them out into space. Several inmate stories are woven together in this and while each one is interesting, they don't stand together as a whole. There are moments of great writing and action in this that caught me up in the story but since the full story doesn't revolve around any character in particular, there is no real way for the reader to become truly veste ...more
Alissa Thorne
I found the writing style off putting, (has the author never heard "show, don't tell"?), the social commentary tiresome, and the content unpleasant. Usually a harsh, violent or dark story is not a deal breaker for me, but in this case it lacked anything to make that worthwhile. Have up a little shy of halfway through.
Mark Pitman
Criminals are enclosed is safe asteroids with plenty of light and food, but nothing else then sent into distant orbits around the sun. With no guards their lives should be better than in a earth bound prison, but they must regulate their own societies. Preachy study of the failures of our penal system.
I got a couple chapters into this one and didn't like how it was written. There wasn't enough story, although there was plenty of the author telling about hsi imaginary world in a style I didn't enjoy at all.
Very intelligent book with some fascinating concepts.
Julie S.
Dec 31, 2010 Julie S. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
buy on Amazon if possible.
Karin marked it as to-read
May 12, 2015
Yojan marked it as to-read
Mar 14, 2015
Noah Temple
Noah Temple marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2015
Ivar marked it as to-read
Jan 01, 2015
Kevin Anderson
Kevin Anderson marked it as to-read
Dec 23, 2014
Brandon marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
Alex marked it as to-read
Dec 14, 2014
David Forero
David Forero marked it as to-read
Nov 06, 2014
Tokeli marked it as to-read
Oct 30, 2014
David Williamson
David Williamson marked it as to-read
Oct 25, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
George Zebrowski is a science fiction author and editor who has written and edited a number of books, and is a former editor of The Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He lives with author Pamela Sargent, with whom he has co-written a number of novels, including Star Trek novels.
More about George Zebrowski...
Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia (Macrolife, #1) Omega Point Trilogy (Omega Point, #1-3) Cave of Stars (Macrolife, #2) Stranger Suns Sunspacers Trilogy (Sunspacer, #1-3)

Share This Book

“All attempts at law, all religion, all ethical norms might be nothing more than attempts by the weak to restrain the strong. Then, within the law, arise the new strong, who subvert the law for their own ends of power and family interest, leaving the old strong outside their circle to pursue the waiting possibilities which they call crime. The weak, the cowardly, the decent ones, live between these groups.” 4 likes
More quotes…