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Space Prison (Ragnarok #1)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  526 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
One of the truly "unusual" novels of science-fiction -- a vivid portrayal of the deadliest planet ever discovered!

Crushing gravity--thin air--winters of unimaginable cold--searing summers under two suns--a deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever-- That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained E
Paperback, 136 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Aegypan (first published January 1st 1958)
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Jason Mills
Jun 23, 2011 Jason Mills rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: SF completists, paranoid survivalists
Tom Godwin's place in SF history is secured by his classic short story, The Cold Equations, in which human concerns batter uselessly against an indifferent universe; so I was intrigued to find out what he could achieve at greater length. Alas, not much.

A human colonising spaceship is captured by the evil Gerns, who dump the unwanted half of the colonists on a hostile planet called Ragnarok, expecting them to die. Indeed, most of them do, falling prey to the local fauna, climate and diseases, as
Troy G
Apr 12, 2011 Troy G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Amazon recommend this book to me, and I'm glad they did. I make a habit of skipping sci fi books published before 1990, but I've been on a colonizationg kick ever since I read "The Last Colony" by John Scalzi.

A bunch of colonists get dumped off on a fairly hostile planet with no technology, and have to survive with what they can find and make there.

This book still works because it depends little on advanced technology that seems quaint / rediculous to me. Most of the technology is on the level
The thing you need to know going into this is: It's a big story. I don't mean long; I mean big. If you expect to be presented with characters whose heads you can get into, whose individual stories you can get involved with, this book is likely to disappoint you. It isn't the story of a single character, or even a small group. It's the story of a civilization developing almost from scratch.

How much from scratch? It goes like this: The Gerns have attacked Earth. A shipload of humans flees in the d
Sep 10, 2011 Jonathan rated it liked it
Tom Godwin's "Space Prison" (originally named "The Survivors") was an enjoyable read, but far from a masterpiece. As said before by many others, it is almost impossible to come to like any of the characters. They show up for a chapter or two, then quickly die off, replaced by their descendants. I understand that Godwin couldn't focus too much on characters, as he is writing over a span of two hundred years, but a character who gets more than a few paragraphs would have been nice.
The idea of a
Feb 08, 2011 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Crushing gravity. Thin air. Winters of unimaginable cold Searing summers under two suns. A deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever. That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen -- and women and children -- were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. ...moreCrushing gravity. Thin air. Winters of unimaginable cold Searing summers under two suns. A deadly wasteland teeming with mons
Beth Allen
This odd, little novel was one of those recommended-for-you suggestions that Amazon randomly comes up with. I don’t know what it is about my purchasing habits that told Amazon I needed to read a 1950’s pulp sci-fi novel, but this time Amazon guessed well.

I really enjoyed this light, interesting read. My favorite plot element was the inclusion of killer, hooved animals that had a single horn (when reared the height of these marauding “unicorns” was said to be 15 feet). These unicorns didn’t just
May 28, 2013 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Godwin will always be remembered for his classic "The Cold Equations," one of the darkest stories ever published in the field. In fact, I was unable to think of anything else he'd written when I stumbled across this slim volume. It's the story of a planetary colonization ship that's taken over by evil aliens; some of the "useful" people are kept as prisoners, but the majority of the passengers are rejected and left on a very harsh and inhospitable world. The viewpoint characters change every few ...more
Nov 27, 2013 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I was very pleased with this short book. It is part of a series, but can be read alone as I'm going to do because the rest of the series isn't available in audiobook format.

First published in 1958. I can't even wrap my little mind around that. It seems crazy to think there were people writing sci-fi 60+ years ago that still holds up today.

The narrator did an excellent job, though the audiobook was a chore to come by. I could only find it available in the UK market under the title Space Prison...
Aug 16, 2016 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I had been working my way through some of the old SF collected on Project Gutenberg for some months when I stumbled on Tom Godwin’s Space Prison (aka The Survivors, part of a two-story series called Ragnarok, for the planet the original was set on).

Godwin, for those unfamiliar, was a late 50's/early 60's writer whose work here bears a loose similarity to classic SF from author like Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon) to Edward Balmer and Philip Wylie (When Worlds Collide / After Worlds Collide), to name a
Paolo Zanella
May 05, 2015 Paolo Zanella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantascienza
Un nutrito gruppo di umani si ritrova a cercare di sopravvivere in un ambiente estremamente ostile e la caratteristica che ha decretato il successo dell'Uomo sulla Terra entra in gioco: l'adattabilità.

Lettura rapida e coinvolgente, in parte rovinata da una buona dose di errori di traduzione e stampa, come consuetudine per questa collana.

Il libro è corto ma intenso, forse un po' costoso se si considera il numero di pagine, ma è sicuramente una buona lettura, ideale per una piccola evasione.
Non vi

Sep 10, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Space Prison is a interesting and riveting story. I thought it was a very intriguing, gritty, and sad story.It begins with sadness and finally ends with hope. Its a story about the fall of pride, and a people that rise out of the ashes. Well done.
May 04, 2011 kent rated it it was ok
the book covers such a vast story (an alternate earth history, an alien race, a war, three planets, and 200 years) that a reader has a difficult time getting to know any of the characters except for some very violent unicorns
Brian Greiner
I first read this a young teen, and would have rated it a solid 5-star. Very inspiring stuff, I thought back then.
However, with age comes wisdom. It is more of the 'humans shall triumph cuz we're better than anyone else' genre. I don't much like that stuff any more. However, as survivalist SF it ain't too bad. Definitely of the Baen Books style of SF, if you like that sort of thing.
On the other hand, one can also look at it as a human drama sort of story, set in an SF universe, with the evil a
Ross Armstrong
This was a fun classic. It was originally published in 1958 and was one of the classic Ace Doubles Science Fiction novels in the early 60s. Originally called "The Survivors".

The story opens with a spaceship trying to make it to the planet Athena before being overtaken by the galaxy spanning conquering Gerns. They do not make it and are boarded by the Gerns. Those deemed useful are enslaved, the rest are dropped on a nearby planet, the deadly 1.5 gravity Ragnarok. There they must survive against
Mike Franklin
Oh dear, this book suffered from pretty much all the complaints I generally level against old science fiction from the ‘golden years.’ It was a good story, though with a very predictable ending, and it was mostly well told; although the prose at the start of the book was wooden and clumsy, it did improve once it got into full swing (or did I just not notice it so much once I was used to it?).

All my problems really came down to realism. Yes, this is science fiction. Yes, it is speculative, and on
Roddy Williams
The humans and the nazi-analogue alien Gerns are at war, ideologically opposed and both striving to control one strategic planet that would alter the course of the war. A colony ship en route to this world is intercepted by the Gerns. Those the Gerns can make use of are taken away while the remainder are promised to be left on a habitable world until they can be picked up and returned to earth.
The Gerns however, abandon the humans on Ragnarok, an inhospitable high-G ore-poor hell of a planet, wh
May 23, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
Space Prisoners is short. It's epic. It's a blast to read.

I grew up reading a fair amount of "Golden Age" science fiction. That stuff was perfectly tailored to a young male reader such as myself. But as much as it pains me to admit it, a lot of it was pulp trash that would bore me to tears now.

In a lot of ways, Space Prisoners resembles the other stuff from its era. The characters are two-dimensional. The story is classic "good guy" vs. "bad guy". There aren't any shades of grey. But just as ma
Kevin Tumlinson
Aug 09, 2012 Kevin Tumlinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those rare books that falls into the category of "unknown but pivotal." Many of the authors, comic book writers, and screenplay writers I love have cited this book as influential on their work. I have a sneaky suspicion that a certain Mr. Roddenberry might have read it at some point, along with the screenwriter for "Wrath of Khan."

At about 50 years old, this book actually holds up incredibly well as science fiction. The story doesn't rely too heavily on technology, which helps. I
Feb 11, 2012 Mina rated it it was amazing
For $0.99, you can download and read the science fiction novel, "Space Prison" from This book is probably the most entertaining read I have ever purchased for $1.00. I was hard pressed to put my e-reader down, the read was so thrilling and fast-paced. Only the need to charge my e-reader forced me to interrupt my race to the finish.

"Space Prison", formerly called "The Survivors", was written in the 1950's by little known author, Tom Godwin. The book is about a group of humans who are
Bob Rust
Apr 14, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Godwin's first two novels (Ragnarok series) comprising The Survivors aka Space Prison (1958) and its sequel The Space Barbarians (1964) tell of the abandoned human survivors of an alien Prison planet who wait 200 years for revenge, then undergo Space-Opera adventures involving a demoralized Earth and telepathic allies but ultimately demonstrating in the approved Astounding fashion humanity's inextinguishable spirit.
Colin Gray
Feb 09, 2014 Colin Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found an audiobook of Space Prison as a random search, and it was a great surprise.

I really enjoyed the story line and the survival of the fittest theme, and all the hardships that they had to endure. The principle of "how would you survive with no technology, but knowledge" was a good theme. The battle scene near the end where the adapted survivors could reign supreme was excellent in the execution.
Hemantkumar Jain
A novella spanning 200+ years of human survival on a desolate planet where they have been stranded by an alien race ... literally left there to die without any resources, in an inhospitable climate and deadly creatures.

The story is that of survival and the goal of escape and revenge that drives survival.
Dec 30, 2015 Garrett87 rated it really liked it
Came across this author while reading another book and gave it a try. Don't get hung up on the technical inconsistencies, this ain't no "The Martian" :). But it's a great story written a long time ago and worth the read
Aaron Anderson
Apr 12, 2015 Aaron Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my absolutely favorite science fiction novels/novelette from when I was maybe 12. I still enjoy it now as an ancient man of almost 40, but it isn't quite as good as I remember. Still worth a read, it's short.
Ray Daley
Aug 14, 2015 Ray Daley rated it liked it
As soon as I started reading this I had the feeling I'd read it before.

It's super similar to Deathworld but different enough to still be enjoyable. And for a book I'd read before I still enjoyed it.
It turns out that I like 1950s science fiction. I am pleased that I like it as it means a whole world of new authors to read.

I really enjoyed this story of survival. The books spans some two hundred years, following each leader as they shape the colony toward a single purpose.. luring the enemy race back to the planet in order to conquer them.

The steps they take in order to do this are quite interesting, the ending is very nice. The vision of the planet at the end is very different to the one in
Aug 21, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the story enjoyable because of a departure from being tied to characters specifically. In Space Prison (The Survivors) you are shown a different concept; you follow generations.
Chris Cheatham
Aug 24, 2016 Chris Cheatham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book

Maybe my favorite science fiction book ever. So good. I can't believe this hasn't been turned into a movie. The story of one being over many generations.
Dec 17, 2014 Voss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carino. Bella storia. Richiede una sospensione della credulità un po' troppo estesa :)
Ma si legge volentieri.
Brett's Books
Feb 10, 2015 Brett's Books rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of my favorite short pieces of science fiction. I've never owned the a printed copy, but the digital copy does not quite seem book length, more like a novella. I enjoy the survival/revenge aspects of the story and the world building is done very well. Sure some of the ideas are a bit dated, it is golden age sci-fi after all, but the brisk pace, high stakes (fate of the standard and the WHOLE HUMAN RACE) and revenge story keep the reader engaged. I have reread this story several times over th ...more
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Tom Godwin (1915–1980) was a science fiction author. Godwin published three novels and thirty short stories. His controversial hard SF short story "The Cold Equations" is a notable in the mid-1950s science fiction genre. He also had three novels published, but these stayed more firmly in John W. Campbell's preferred styles and are less notable. Graduated from Bay Village High School in Bay Village ...more
More about Tom Godwin...

Other Books in the Series

Ragnarok (2 books)
  • The Space Barbarians

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