ORPHANS OF THE SKY Mass Market Paperback – Dec 1 2001
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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, four-time winner of the Hugo Award and recipient of three Retro Hugos, received the first Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement. His worldwide bestsellers have been translated into 22 languages and include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, Time Enough for Love, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His long-lost first novel, For Us, the Living, was recently published by Scribner and Pocket Books.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
This has got to be one of Heinlein's best books; a real find if you can get it! The story is set on a giant spaceship, five miles long, one and a half wide, a colony ship on it's way to Alpha Centaurii. The ship is a spinning cylinder with hundreds of decks like the rings in a tree trunk - centrifugal force gives the impression of gravity on outer decks, while the inner ones, near the axis, are weightless, and it is in the axis that command was situated.
Shortly after it set off, centuries ago from the story's perspective, there was a mutiny and the Captain and much of the original crew was lost. Those left of the crew abandoned the central command axis, and settled permanently in the outer decks. What was left of the mutineers, injured, irradiated and mutating, retreated to the axis. And thus it stayed for hundreds of years, the ship drifting on with no-one in control.
Society has degenerated into a kind of medieval feudal structure, with strict class hierarchies, and even a priest caste. The "Captain" is like an emperor, his "scientists" tend the holy machines. Special poets recite the manuals and the rotas as though they were scripture. No-one really knows what all the machines are anymore, or how they work, or even what the manuals mean. All the books have become holy, the ship's routines have become religious acts, and the ship is now considered to be the entire universe. In the beginning, there was the ship.....
Our hero is a teenager, who lives in one of the "villages" along the outer decks. He and some of his friends explore the forbidden upper decks, which are dark and cold, and grow steadily more weightless as they near the axis. Up a hundred decks they go, until they finally meet the "muties".Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Jan. 1 2014 by Bob
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 morePublished on Aug. 24 2003 by Mr. Nobody
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 morePublished on Dec 29 2002 by R. Wallace
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
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 morePublished on June 27 2002
Robert A. Heinlein is easily one of the best authors that have published their works, science fiction or not. Read morePublished on June 20 2002 by rzaster
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 morePublished on Oct. 11 2000
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 morePublished on Nov. 22 1999 by Glenn H. Reynolds