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ORPHANS OF THE SKY [Mass Market Paperback]

4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 27 2001
Ancient myths told of a place called Earth, but the modern world knew it was nonsense. Science knew the Ship was all the Universe, and as long as the sacred Converter was fed, lights would glow and air would flow through the miles of metal corridors. Hugh never questioned these truths until a despised mutie showed him the Control Room and he learned the true nature of the Ship and its mission.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Heinlein's 1951 novel offers a ship drifting through the currents of space as a microcosm of society, complete with class struggles, politics (including war between inhabitants of different decks), and love and family. Protagonist Hugh Hoyland fights to understand it all and to bring unity to the crew. Stealth titles are available directly at www.stealthpress.com.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was educated at the University of Missouri and the US Naval Academy, Annapolis. He served as a naval officer for five years but retired in 1934 due to ill health. He then studied physics at UCLA before beginning to publish sf with 'Lifeline' for Astounding Science Fiction in 1939. Among his many novels are The Door into Summer, Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Novel by Heinlein June 20 2002
By rzaster
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Robert A. Heinlein is easily one of the best authors that have published their works, science fiction or not. "Orphans of the Sky" was originally published as two short stories, titled "Universe" and "Common Sense." This novel puts the two works together so that they read like one novel, which the two stories really are once they are combined. This is one of Heinlein's juveniles and I have yet to read any of the books that he wrote during the second part of his career, but I really enjoy these books. Heinlein here doesn't get involved with his beliefs as the book is more plot oriented. This doesn't mean that there aren't lots of good messages to learn by reading this, though.
Many, many years after Earth, there is a huge spaceship that flies throughout space. This space shuttle is made up of different stories and it is like a huge planets, with farms, homes, work areas, etcetera. On this planet are two types of people, the crew of the space shuttle, and people that are called "Muties" are the people that live on the upper parts of the ship and are sterotyped as to being violent and dirty people. The crew part of the ship has no clue that the shuttle is even moving and one man, Hugh, tries to tell the crew part of the ship the truth behind everything. The plot may not sound that it would be lots of fun, but it sure is.
People on the space shuttle are brought up thinking that the shuttle is the only thing in existence and that there is nothing beyond it. Heinlein tries to teach in this novel that you must examine everything and every way possible to prove that something is either correct or incorrect. It took one person of the crew part of the ship to realize the truth, and this is the supreme example that Heinlein shows.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read Dec 15 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While it shouldn't be compared to his later genre-busting novels, Orphans of the Sky is an entertaining Robert A. Heinlein book in its own right. The concept is one often mentioned in science fiction, but rarely expanded upon: a giant, self-contained spaceship - it's own Universe - in which humans eat and breathe, sleep and breed. The twist here is that they've been in it for so long that they can't remember life before it - or even imagine it, as they now believe the the Ship IS the Universe. It is an interesting social critique, as it shows how perfectly viable truths (indeed, Common Sense) can be reduced to mere mythology and religious twaddle. The book is well-written. Short, compact - two stories in about 120 pages - it is very tight, and this is one of those rare stories where not a single word is wasted (a complete contrast to some of Heinlein's later novels, one might say.) These are also the last two stories in Heinlein's Future History (never included in The Past Through Tomorrow.) A worthwhile story, I'm glad to see it back in print. Certainly not a heavyweight novel, but Heinlein fans will enjoy it. Reccommended for them, or as a good distraction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mind-expanding perspectives for younger readers Feb. 21 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Originally published as two short stories, ("Universe" and "Common Sense"), this short novel showcases Heinlein's penchant for cynical social commentary. "Common Sense" is the sequel to "Universe" so the two stories fit together well to tell a single intriguing tale, based on an unusual, but not-too-unbelievable situation. An enormous, self-sufficient colonial expedition has been sent out towards a distant star. But human weakness interferes with the designers' well-laid plans when a mutiny leads to the death of every officer capable of piloting the ship. Generations later, when the story opens, the ship is still wandering aimlessly through space, the indefatigable engineering systems still running flawlessly; but the "crew" has lost virtually all knowledge of what their mission was, and no longer even realize they are in a moving vessel. The ship is their entire Universe, and when one man discovers otherwise, events unfold that rock their society to its foundations. "Universe" is very entertaining in a cerebral way, as we see how the ship's rules and traditions and history have become distorted into legends, myths, and of course, religion. Heinlein's practical knowledge of ship's organization serves him well here, too, as he paints a portrait of the working (if not exactly ideal) society that developed during the generations following the mutiny. And as usual, he pairs a good-hearted but naïve young protagonist (Hugh Hoyland) with a cynical, world-wise man-who-knows. The fact that Heinlein chose a two-headed mutant (Joe-Jim) for this role seems a bit over the top, but Joe-Jim is certainly an outsider, and the presence of large numbers of physically mutated persons seems reasonable enough under the circumstances. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars First of a Breed Dec 19 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This may not be the first generation starship tale, but it's probably the first where the passengers have forgotten that they're in a ship and that its corridors and rooms are not the universe.
This novel combines the story of Galileo with political intrigue and military conquest, all aboard a starship that has lapsed into feudalism after a mutiny in the crew long ago. After the mutiny, people forgot not only their mission to travel to Far Centaurus but that there was a universe outside the ship's hull. Books are still around, but physics and astronomy are treated like elaborate allegories by the "scientists" and not realities. Barbaric muties roam the upper decks, and cannibalism is not unknown, infantcide a common practice.
Scientist novitiate Hugh Hoyland plays the Galileo role. He is captured by two-headed mutant Joe-Jim and, when he's not playing checkers with either of the twins, has the run of their library and the benefit of their intellects. It's from that unlikely source that Hoyland learns the truth about the ship and the world outside.
And he begins to form a plan to complete the mission.
First published in 1941 as two short stories, "Universe" and "Common Sense", this story still entertains with its heroism, intrigue, and action. They are, chronologically, also the last short stories in Heinlein's Future History.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Still fresh
The problem with much old science fiction is that it dates so quickly however in this case in remains readable as it does not use technology that makes it obviously dated, for... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bob
2.0 out of 5 stars good concept, executed poorly
This is the only Heinlen book ive read and it will likely be the last. The story starts out interesting enough - the human race travelling through space in a giant starship that... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2003 by Mr. Nobody
5.0 out of 5 stars My first Heinlein book
I first read this short novel when I was about 12 years old. Talk about mind-blowing. It never occured to me that people could have two heads, or be the heroes of a book! Read more
Published on Dec 29 2002 by R. Wallace
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice plot but leaves you wanting
3.5 stars.
This is a good book, not to be missed by SF fans. My only complaint was that the psychology of people who are not familiar with a concept of anything outside their... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2002 by Puneet Tanwar
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Heinlein I read, and I sure am happy I read it
This was the first Robert Heinlein book that I read. I needed a book to use for a book report project in 8th grade, and I found this book in the school library. Read more
Published on June 27 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars simply dreadful
This is piece of excrement that should interest at all no one over the age of twelve with a modicum of taste and intelligence. On the other hand, it's also a... Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A giant ship in space becomes all that the crew know!
Orphans of the sky - Robert Heinlein
This has got to be one of Heinlein's best books; a real find if you can get it! Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2000 by Micheal O Mealoid
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe this is out of print. Republish it NOW!
An excellent book, establishing a paradigm followed by many subsequent science fiction plots. As always, Heinlein is fascinated by competence and issues of morality and... Read more
Published on Nov. 22 1999 by Glenn H. Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for junior high through adult
Orphans of the Sky speculates an advanced culture's collapse and replacement with a feudal system. Although the story takes place in a spaceship, the occupants are unaware of the... Read more
Published on May 24 1998
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