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Orphans of the Sky
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Orphans of the Sky

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  5,287 ratings  ·  169 reviews
A fix-up consisting of the novelette "Universe" (1941) and the novella "Common Sense" (1941). First published in 1963.

Hugh had been taught that, according to the ancient sacred writings, the Ship was on a voyage to faraway Centaurus. But he also understood this was actually allegory for a voyage to spiritual perfection. Indeed, how could the Ship move, since its miles and...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 1st 1970 by Berkley (first published 1963)
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I rather like this religious allegory. They've been on a huge spaceship ("The Ship") for many generations, and all they can remember of Earth are distant legends kept alive in an oral tradition. According to these myths, the Ship was built by "Jordan". Once, there had been a Golden Age, when the ship was ruled by "Jordan's Captain", the guardian of the sacred "Plan". But then there was a mutiny, led by someone called Huff ("accursed Huff, the First to Sin"), and the Plan was lost. Now the Ship i...more
This novella collects two of Heinlein's earliest stories, both from 1941, but unlike other such combinations, the two stories were originally meant to go together, and form a continuous narrative. As this is a very early attempt from Heinlein, it wouldn't be surprising to find his writing rough and flawed, but it's an unexpectedly solid yarn.

His writing is direct and unobtrusive; something many authors aspire to, but few ever manage. Even at this early stage, his naturalistic prose sets him abov...more
Amal El-Mohtar
WOW this cover is not the cover I have, which is far less ... Whatever the hell this cover is. ("That must have been the '80s," said my Glaswegian. Goodreads has this as the 2001 cover from Baen. It's a good thing feminism fixed all the world's problems or who KNOWS what kind of cover we'd have.)

I picked this up second-hand (Mayflower-Dell paperback, June 1965), curious to read some more Heinlein in the wake of having recently finished Jo Walton's Among Others. Thus far the only Heinlein I'd rea...more
Jeff Yoak
This is a "big idea" novel for Heinlein. It tells the story of the first inter-stellar ship, planing to make a trip that will span generations. Mutiny and a general degradation of culture occur aboard and generations are born who are unable to conceive of, or believe in, a world outside the ship. The story centers on brave and clever men who start to regain this knowledge, stomping a foot on a deck plate and insisting like a similar brave man, "But still, it moves!"

Heinlein's skill at envisionin...more
Lord of the Flies meets Lost in Space.

Not one of Heinlein's masterpieces but also not bad, very imaginative and creative. At it's best it is an interesting religious and political allegory, at worst it is campy pulp. But not bad. I think the producers of Disney's Wall-E may have been influenced somewhat by the concept. This began as a couple of novelettes in the early 40s and then put together in book form and published as a novel in 1963, so this was at least one of his earliest ideas.

Like ma...more
Stephanie "Jedigal"
This is the most memorable sci-fi title of my youth. I loved the idea that people born on a deep space ship might not know that it WAS a ship, that it was the extent of the universe to them, and that the concept of "outside" would be horribly frightening.

To anyone interested, this is a short one! Short & sweet. :o)
June 2013 - finished another re-read. Still love it.
This was one of the most important books of my childhood. The questioning of authority, existential inquiry and transcendence are just some of the themes that are explored.
Rhett Bruno
I downloaded this book because I have a huge interest in "Generational Ships" in my own work and was curious to see how one of the masters handled it. Overall I love the premise. No need to summarize it in detail as this is a well known enough novel, but the idea of creating a world that has become lost in time and space is almost like a writers playground. Anything is possible, and Heinlein fills his ship with a myriad of intriguing ideas.

Heinlein has this way of putting forth interesting bits...more
This book - like many of Heinlein's books - really blew my mind as a kid. Very trippy concept - a spaceship bound on a lightyears journey to colonize another world ran into trouble with its nuclear reactor and (at the time the novel begins) has been adrift in space now for centuries with countless generations come and gone and all knowledge of the outside world forgotten... Check it out, especially if you're a kid. It's a really cool idea.
First Heinen book I was ever exposed to. My Uncle Bill read this to me and my cousins one summer when I was about ten. Addicted me to science fiction and specifically to Heinlein instantaneously. I owe Bill for lots of things, but this one's up there. Thanks, man.
Mitchel Broussard
The impetus for every sci-fi novel with a generation ship that followed it, Heinlein's original is still exciting and wildly intriguing almost 70 years later.

I think I'll be checking out some of his other stories very soon.
A great tale by Heinlein. Truly enjoyable tale about an entire microcosm of a world inside of a spaceship traveling among the stars. I read this first when I was probably 12 and it's stayed with me for the last 30+ years.
Jay Wickre
One of my all-time favorites I read as a teenager. Fantastic, wonderful, suspenseful, surprising, etc, etc. I realize I'm ranting but this book helped shape my early years.
Cynaemon Milliken
I first read this book in 7th grade, and it has greatly influenced my life and the way I view people who are different. Re-read it last summer and still love it.
Because this sentence exists "the other wife, the unnamed one, kept out of his sight after losing a tooth, quite suddenly"
One of the better books I have read in a long time.
Leo Walsh
I am always of two minds about Heinlein. He writes clear, easy to follow prose. And he is better at drawing an engaging character than his peers in the classic age of SF, like Asimov and Clarke; One need only think of Mycroft Holmes and Mannie from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to understand what I am saying. And his ideas are pretty good too. Unlike most world-builders, he doesn't get too carried away. And I love the way that he just mentions a technology, and doesn't harp on its origin or exac...more
Orphans of the Sky was interesting. An interesting culture is created on a multi-generational space voyage where the original gets killed off, mutants begin to form due to radiation, and no one has any idea for why they're there. The majority of people consider the space ship itself to be what the universe is and can't conceive that it's a vehicle floating through a much larger open area.

What's most interesting are the discussions on religion and philosophy which spark due to this awkward situat...more
Rebecca Schwarz
I read this because it was one of the earlier examples of a story that takes place on a generation ship and I'm preparing to write a novel set on a generation ship. This is early Heinlein and I wished he hadn't mentioned women at all, sexism by omission would have seemed so much less sexist than the few sentences he included that reference women. In the first novella, the only mention of a woman is Hugh's (the main character) aunt, who looks up when he returns home but says nothing "as is fittin...more
I had already read Universe, and at first I didnt know that this was Universe and its sequel - Common Sense in one volume.

The basis idea in Universe - that a multi-generational interstellar had a mutiny mid trip and never reached its destination - is interesting in itself. The idea that they think their whole universe is the ship itself is so easily recognizable. It reminded me of Ramsis II - who lived over 90 years in a time when the typical lifespan was 30. It made for a case where almost lite...more
Aug 25, 2012 Zane rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Libertarians, two-headed or otherwise
Recommended to Zane by: Mommmmmmmmmmmmmm
more fucking sci-fi

in this book, Heinlein gives his standard 'live free or die' libertarian-talking points to the 'space mutants,' giving 'Orphans' the not-to-be-missed zesty jingoistic undertones I completely missed as I child. Anyway - once Ron Paul replaces every stoplight in America with free(dom) shot-gun dispensers, and finally fixes this country, this book will probably have some sort of resurgence.

I guess you might also want to read this book cause it kinda introduces the concept of a...more
Donna Weaver
This is not my favorite Heinlein book. I was really drawn to some of the characters, especially Jimmy/Joe. I wanted to like Hugh, and I realize this book was written in a different time, but I'm not into spousal abuse. I don't care what age you come from, I'm not going to like a character who hits his wife in the mouth--especially not when it's hard enough to knock a tooth out.

I'm guessing this was written before Heinlein realized he liked strong, capable women.

I think Beth Revis's "Across the...more
Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman
I read it, and it was a quick Heinlein read and rather fun. However, the two appearances of women in the plot were so irrelevant and so misogynist (from the author more than the characters) that an editor might as well cut them out and change the genders of various main characters. I assure you, it would make no difference to the book, except that I wouldn't want to go back and punch Heinlein in the nose.

Seriously. This one dude gets picked out at the beginning of the story for being exceptional...more
Not one of Heinlein's best books overall, and not his most polished writing, but “Orphans of the Sky” presents an amazing premise, fresh for its time: life in an isolated society, lost from time and contact with the rest of humanity--not on some remote island or distant planet, but aboard an enormous colony spaceship, equipped for a multi-generational voyage to "Far Centauri."
A mutiny late toward the end of the first generation of space travelers wipes out the crew of the craft and leaves it ad...more
Mike (the Paladin)
One of my long ago Heinlein reads and one of the (I'm sad to say) less satisfying "colony starship with a crew who have forgotten they are on a ship and think it's the whole universe", stories.

I'm pretty sure that short of a longer synopsis and a few spoilers that about says it. A mutiny on a colonization starship ends in most everybody in charge getting killed. the survivors farm the hydroponic gardens and time passes, until that rare breed of individual is born.... a protagonist.
Don Skotch Vail

I needed a quick read distraction and this provided it. Awful writing, hard to tell one good guy from the other (except for the two headed guy), and a really, really awful depiction of women as lower than animals.

But it is the first story about generation ships so I enjoyed reading it for that reason.
Orphans of the Sky combines two short stories originally published in 1941 into one short novel (Universe and Common Sense). Although not as heady as his more well-known, later releases, Orphans of the Sky is a pleasurable read. The plot, especially the character interactions, can be a bit juvenile at times and the story takes a little bit of time to warm to but Heinlein presents wonderful imagery of space travel and issues that can arise during long, long space trips. The idea of a generation s...more
I really enjoyed Heinlein's space opera stuff, and much of his sort of space operish young adult SF. This is a good one.
Rereading this was an interesting experience after last reading it as a young teenager. It's short so Heinlein doesn't get much chance to go into depth and that's a shame because the subject just demands to be fleshed out.

The characters aren't quite believable and Heinlein played the idea of mutants as the 50's idea of circus freaks (at least physically) and women are essentially not part of the story at all but the ideas are interesting and I remember being awed by the concept of what a society...more
Simona Bartolotta
«Gioielli di luce a profusione, sparsi con magnifica indifferenza e principesco sfarzo nel simulacro del cielo, gli infiniti soli si stendevano dinanzi a lui... sopra si lui, dietro di lui, tutt'intorno a lui.»

Sono diverse le tematiche interessanti che vengono toccate nel corso del romanzo; toccate, ma non sviluppate. Tutto resta relegato al proprio livello embrionale, allo stadio primitivo, incapace di compiere il balzo verso una trattazione non dico analitica, o estesa, per quanto mi sarebbe p...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing data for book provided 2 30 Oct 27, 2011 12:57AM  
  • The Voyage of the Space Beagle
  • Untouched By Human Hands
  • The Humanoids
  • Fury
  • What Mad Universe
  • Captive Universe
  • All My Sins Remembered
  • They Walked Like Men
  • Islands in the Sky
  • The Rest of the Robots (Robot, #0.2)
  • To Marry Medusa
  • Lord Of Thunder (Beast Master / Hosteen Storm, #2)
  • Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven
  • Brain Wave
  • Big Planet
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre...more
More about Robert A. Heinlein...
Stranger in a Strange Land Starship Troopers The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Time Enough for Love (The World As Myth) The Puppet Masters

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“Two bodies attract each other directly as the product of their masses and inversely as the square of their distance.' It sounds like a rule for simple physical facts, does it not? Yet it is nothing of the sort; it was the poetical way the old ones had of expressing the rule of propinquity which governs the emotion of love. The bodies referred to are human bodies, mass is their capacity for love. Young people have a greater capacity for love than the elderly; when thy are thrown together they fall in love, yet when they are separated they soon get over it. 'Out of sight, out of mind.' It's as simple as that. But you were seeking some deep meaning for it.” 21 likes
“There is a misconception, geocentric and anthropomorphic, common to the large majority the the earthbound, which causes them to visualize a planetary system stereoscopically. The mind's eye sees a sun, remote from a backdrop of stars, and surrounded by spinning apples -- the planets. Step out on your balcony and look. Can you tell the planets from the stars? Venus you may pick out with ease, but could you tell it from Canopus, if you had not previously been introduced? That little red speck -- is it Mars, or is it Antares? Blast for Antares, believing it to be a planet, and you will never live to have grandchildren.” 5 likes
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