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

Orphans of the Sky

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,755 Ratings  ·  266 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 January 1st 1963)
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 Orphans of the Sky, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Orphans of the Sky

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Lyn
May 02, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 generational ship 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 earli
...more
Manny
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
J.G. Keely
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
David
Jun 25, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: muties, dwarves, engineers and astrogators who have never seen the stars
This is one of the original "lost generation ship" stories, a novella stitched together from two of Heinlein's earlier short stories. Considering it was originally written in the 40s, Orphans of the Sky still holds up reasonably well as pure science fiction, with little to betray its golden age origins other than the fact that all the tropes are so well worn by now.

The "crew" of the Ship has never known anything but the Ship, a massive multideck vessel which to them is literally the entire unive
...more
Andrew
Oct 31, 2015 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time now for another slice of classic science fiction - this time from the pen of Robert Heinlein. I recently stumbled across a series of essays entitled "The defining science fiction of the (Insert decade) which ran from the 1950s to the 1990s. They are absolutely brilliant and it got me thinking, You see as part of the essay there was listed each year the top most influential and as the title describes defining. This title was one of them and I was instantly drawn to reading it.

Well now I hav
...more
Ben Babcock
Second Heinlein collection in this book (the first being The Man Who Sold the Moon ). Now we have two related 1940s novellae fixed-up into a single novel in the 1960s. Oh, science fiction publishing, you are so fun.

Orphans of the Sky is one of the ur–generation ship tales. Heinlein immediately seizes on the possibility that something could go so disastrously wrong during the voyage such that the entire crew forgets it is on a ship. For all intents and purposes, the Ship is now the universe. Any
...more
J.j. Metsavana
Nov 24, 2015 J.j. Metsavana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noor ja vihane Heinlein paneb hästi ja hoogsalt. Tegevus ja põnevus püsivad ja maailm on loodud lahedalt praktiliste ja küüniliste inimeste/mutantidega. Ei pea vastu ja toon siinkohal ära ühe lõigu

"Üks usutaganejast teadlane, üks röövitud teadlane, üks juhm talumees, üks kahepäine koletis ja üks õunasuuruse ajuga debiilik; viis nuga, kui Joe-Jimi ühe eest lugeda; viis aju, kui Joe-Jimi kahe eest lugeda ja Bobot üldse mitte arvestada; viis aju ja viis nuga, et pea peale pöörata kogu kultuur."

Kuid
...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
Leah
Sep 21, 2013 Leah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Because this sentence exists "the other wife, the unnamed one, kept out of his sight after losing a tooth, quite suddenly"
Rhett Bruno
Oct 14, 2014 Rhett Bruno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca Schwarz
Jan 31, 2014 Rebecca Schwarz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Merciful
Jun 26, 2009 Merciful rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Quentin
Jul 08, 2009 Quentin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jaan
Feb 21, 2016 Jaan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heade ideedega raamat generatsioonidelaevast ja sellest, kuidas vana teadus on aja jooksul muteerunud religiooniks, kuid lõpu viimases veerandis hakkas iga keeratava leheküljega tunduma, et asi saab natuke liiga järsu finaali, kuigi materjali oleks veel teist nii pika loo kirjutamiseks. Nii ta ka läks. Sujuv lugemine, kui soov midagi ette võtta, mis ühe või kahe õhtuga läbi saab. Samuti soovitan võrdluseks ka neile, kellele meeldis Kantileen Leibowitzile, kuna mõlemas on mandunud tsivilisatsioon ...more
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 exa ...more
AndrewP
The story of a group of forward thinking people who begin to realize that their 'world' is actually the inside of an ark like starship. Over many generations and various mutinies, all knowledge of their actual situation has been lost and replaced with weird superstition and religion.
A pretty good story and nice to read an older classic from one of the masters. By today's standards, this may seem a little short, but back in the day authors didn't need 600 pages to tell a story.
Ali Çetinbudaklar
Heinlein, kadınlarla ne alıp veremediğin var, yani o bölümlerin hikayeye katkısı da yok ne gereksiz bölümlerdir.
Brandyn Lee
Cool ideas, repetitive action, and a heap of sexism.
M. Dobson
Jun 23, 2015 M. Dobson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've held off on writing this review for so many reasons. This was an Audible offering and I was excited to return to an author of my youth. Today, I'm sad for my young female teen self that had novels like this to guide her future. Yes, women are used to reading male main characters without question or concern. However this great story dives hard into female prejudices that should have shocked me even in the late 1960's and early 1970's.

I simply cannot recommend it unless it is a woman's liter
...more
Joshy
Feb 02, 2008 Joshy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Matt
Feb 14, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2011 Jay Wickre rated it it was amazing
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.
Dave
Sep 11, 2010 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the better books I have read in a long time.
Chris
Aug 16, 2013 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Darth
Mar 11, 2011 Darth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heinlein
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
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 Rest of the Robots (Robot, #0.2)
  • Fury
  • The Humanoids
  • They Walked Like Men
  • Brain Wave
  • Captive Universe
  • The Great Explosion
  • The Green Odyssey
  • Big Planet
  • Star Man's Son, 2250 A.D
  • The Ship Errant (Brainship, #6)
  • What Mad Universe
  • The Silver Eggheads
  • The Listeners
  • Nick and the Glimmung
  • Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven
205
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...

Share This Book



“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.” 24 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.” 6 likes
More quotes…