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King David's Spaceship (CoDominium Universe)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,706 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In the time of John Christian Falkenberg, the explosion of humanity into space was followed by a galaxy-wide technological collapse.

Since the Fall, King David's people have regained an early-industrial age technology, but another planet has progressed faster, and it's imperial Navy has discovered them. If his people are not to spend the rest of their history as just anothe
Paperback, 283 pages
Published October 1st 1981 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1973)
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Robert Kroese
OK, first of all, when you see the title "King David's Spaceship", don't you think about King David from the Bible? I was thinking maybe David defeats Goliath, becomes king, and then decides to really kick some Philistine ass by sending a rocket to the moon. No such luck. I bought this book because I was intrigued by the idea of a relatively backwards civilization building a spaceship, but most of the book is taken up with various tangential adventures. Pournelle's characters, as always, are fla ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science fiction readers
'A Spaceship for the King' was the title of the original serial version in Analog Magazine. Jerry added a few new scenes when it was packaged as a novel and published under the title 'King David's Spaceship'.

The book is interesting for the characters and the environment. On one hand you have the Empire, star-faring and re-uniting worlds after the collapse, and the out worlds that have collapsed back to pre-industrial civilizations. The juxtapositions of these technologies is striking, but the s
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
1982 grade B+

aka King David's Spaceship
Frantick Reader
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Cheesy but fun. I have a special place in my heart for this sort of Sci Fi.
Hristyuk Vitaliy

Great introduction to the universe of CoDominium. And it is a fun and fast-paced reading. I'm highly recommending it to readers.
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
I picked up this book after asking my father, a scifi enthusist, for another recommendation. The last book he told me to read was the Hyperion Cantos which was, and remains, some of the best stuff I've ever read. So he's got a decent tract record so far. This time, "The Mote in God's Eye" was the selected book. Of course, spending a minute on google let me discover that "Mote" was actually book two in a series. Being an experience series reader, I went back and got the first book to tackle first ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I don't really remember what made me love this book so much to begin with, but I looked for it at used book stores years ago and was thrilled to find a copy, which, naturally, I haven't read since. XD The premise is supposed to be a galaxy split apart by interstellar war, so that many planets lost technological capabilities entirely. The current Empire is trying to reunite the galaxy and doing everything in its power to prevent another war. As part of that, they are rediscovering less technologi ...more
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
King David's Spaceship by Pournelle is a little slice of awesome. Steam Punk meets both low and high tech. The Human empire was at it height spanning hundreds of worlds - until a massive civil war almost destroyed it entirely. A new empire arose from the ashes and vowed to not let it happen again. Rebuilding the empire and bringing all worlds back until control, the empire was not kind to low tech worlds. King David's was world one such world, but they were determined not to follow the same path ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Picture a galaxy upon which a dark age descended. The remnants of the old empire still have the technology of spaceships etc and are trying to rebuild the old empire. King David is trying to do the same to his miserably fallen planet but they have lost the technologies.
When the empire's forces re-appear, they offer a route back to the old technologies, but with a heavy price. For those planets that cannot demonstrate orbital flight, only a very second class membership in the new empire (with lit
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Boulder Boulderson
Great sci-fi; Pournelle is one of my favourite old sci-fi authors. This and his Falkenburg novels (set in the same universe much earlier) are all fantastic stuff. Looks at different cultures and the difficulties of integrating different levels of of technology, something that was very relevant at the time of publication (the vignette about a planet which accepted medical technology but not agricultural is a commentary on the similar situation in Africa at the time, though the helpless bafflement ...more
Read Ng
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In the same universe as Pournelle/Niven used in The Mote In God's Eye, we are transported to a set of pre-space faring worlds.

There is reference to the discovery of the Moties in the last part of this story. I was disappointed with this story in that it lacked the use of too much technology, but it does deal with the ramifications of the introduction of advance technologies into a more primitive civilization. Kind of why Star Fleet has their prime directive.

I did notice that Alderson shares in
Maurits van Rees
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-future

- Nice to read a story where the goal is not to safe a world from disaster, but to build a spaceship so the world gets a higher place in the empire.

- The strategical and tactical qualities of MacKinnie and Hal are shown well.


- Even contemplating to create a spaceship when you are still fighting with swords is a real stretch.

- To me, the emotions felt mostly flat. Sure, I hoped the characters would achieve their goal, but they stayed at a distance, making it hard to feel bonded to them.
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pournelle does a great job of telling stories about how societies of different technological levels interact. This is a tale about an industrial age society that's rediscovered by an advanced space faring civilization. Just because they don't have technology doesn't mean they're dumb. I think it's great to read about how this lower technology world tries to outsmart the galactic human empire.

As with several of the books by Pournelle, they feel a bit dated, especially with the attitude towards wo
Ármin Scipiades
Typical Pournelle: fantastic world, awesome ideas, crappy writing. This was better than average, actually: the world showed, the goals of the characters were interesting, mentioning the moties didn't feel forced. Yeah, there are the usual flat characters and the shaky plot progression, the all-round crappy writing, and the horrible portrayal of the female protagonist (who might have been written by Asimov). But then, the whole book is kind of uplifting. And I love that world.
Scott Ransom
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Meh. A strange and cobbled together story that is simply just not that good... Pournelle definitely has much better, although also even worse (i.e. The Gripping Hand -- which is in the same Universe as this story). Makes me wonder if I should re-read Mote in God's Eye to see if it is a good as my teen-aged memories remember it being. I've certainly changed my views on books before over the years.
Joe Wilson
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A good bit of classic SF. King David's Spaceship is entertaining and provocative. However, it contains just enough old-guard SF (a'la Robert Heinlen's later works) misogyny to make it slightly uncomfortable. However, there's a hint of push-back against those dated gender ideals, even as the book doesn't turn away from them completely.

The book also illustrates Pournelle's apparent fascination with pulse-rocket propulsion.
Sep 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Set in the same universe as The Prince and The Mote in God’s Eye, this is the story of a human colony planet that has regressed technology wise. It now needs to prove that it can put a ship into orbit in order to gain full membership in the Empire. Mildly entertaining, but not much more.
J. D.
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By a co-author of "The Mote in God's Eye", this science-fiction novel of the moderately far future relates the story
of a planet attempting to achieve space travel in order qualify as something more than a colony of the rebuilding earth-based empire. This empire follows a much earlier one
which disintegrated in secessional warfare. A splendid adventure story.
Madeleine Tainton
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Relates nicely to some classics. This story takes place around the time of Mote in God's Eye etc., Pournelle's series with Larry Niven. It's about a colony of humans on a backwards planet who outsmart the big government. It feels good.
Robert Ruppert
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Wanted to like it, but story, characters and believing in plot were lacking for me. Actually consider most of the characters unlikeable. Just my opinion.
Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Book is intact but worn.
Jack Teague
science fiction
Mary Rankin
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Good, solid scifi
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-scifi
On the whole, not that bad.
Chris Stutts
An earlier iteration of "King David's Spaceship"
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
1988 grade B+

Actually named "Spaceship For The King"
Cathie Stumpenhaus
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A delight to read...again. Full of action, adventure, great characters, and science/technology (horse collars?)
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Dr Jerry Eugene Pournelle is an American science fiction writer, engineer, essayist, and journalist, who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte, and has since 1998 been maintaining his own website and blog.

From the beginning, Pournelle's work has centred around strong military themes. Several books describe the fictional mercenary infantry force known as Falkenberg's Legion. Ther
More about Jerry Pournelle...

Other Books in the Series

CoDominium Universe (8 books)
  • The Mote in God's Eye
  • Prince of Mercenaries (Falkenberg's Legion #2)
  • Falkenberg's Legion (Falkenberg's Legion #1)
  • Go Tell the Spartans (Falkenberg's Legion #3)
  • Prince of Sparta (Falkenberg's Legion #4)
  • The Gripping Hand
  • Outies (Moties #3)

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