Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Orphans of the Sky » User review

Orphans of the Sky

A book by Robert A. Heinlein

< read all 4 reviews

Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein

  • Sep 1, 2010
  • by

What was your first impression?  This is another book I read back in the not so dim mists of time.  This was the first time I ever encountered the concept of mutations.  A man with two heads.  A woman with four arms.  People killing mutated babies.  This book creeped me out.

Plot summary?  The stars are VERY far away.  If faster than light travel is impossible then it could take a long time to get there.  So this is the story of a generation ship.  The people that start the voyage die on the trip and their children continue and their children and their children...  But something goes wrong and the people forget.  They no longer know what the ship really is.  They think it's the whole universe.

What's the bottom line?  Long ago I would have given this book 4 stars but now I would say it's only worth 3.   But that may be because I am old and jaded and the ideas aren't new to me anymore.  I bet plenty of preteens would love this book.

But this story does get across the idea of different people having very different paradigms of the universe and it is possible for the majority to be completely WRONG.

There was a mutiny on the generation ship and most of the officers were killed.  So people were left on an out of control run away ship.  They still used the word ship but they didn't know what it meant.  So two feuding societies formed on board.  The muties and the crew.  The crew lived in the high gravity areas at the outer edge and the muties in the low gravity near the center where cannibalism was common.  In many ways this is a very ugly story.  But as always Heinlein presents the indominability of humanity and intelligence saving the day for some.  Today the ending seems very implausible but it was much better when the world was mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful and Robert Heinlein whistled far and wee.

Sorry e.e.cummings.  LOL


Our concepts of the universe changed in the first third of the last century but there are undoubtedly people today who haven't heard and don't understand the changes  Before 1900 we did not know there were other galaxies.    Before 1900 we did not know time could change with speed.  The universe is strange and complex and not necessarily what we think.  That is an idea that this book hammers home along with how difficult it is for most people to shift their mental gears.

But reality does not care.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More Orphans of the Sky reviews
review by . March 25, 2011
The mutiny took place many, many years ago on an enormous star ship outfitted for a multi-generational voyage to Far Centaurus. The last remaining member of the original crew, for right or wrong, made a political decision to hide the logs and, in effect, to bury the present crew's real history. As a result, for those alive today, now drifting aimlessly in a deep space of which none of the inhabitants are even aware, the ship constitutes their entire universe. None of them has ever been outside …
Quick Tip by . March 25, 2011
Heinlein, in the space of an incredibly short 128 pages, has provided us with the fodder for many a thoughtful conversation. One more in a string of ground-breaking sci-fi classics that, on the surface, tells an exciting story but, at the same time, deals with serious issues - in this case, bigotry and the perennial science vs religion debate.
review by . September 22, 2009
There is a statistical principle called "regression to the mean" that can also be applied across human generations. It means that when a parent is extremely intelligent the probability is very high that the children will be closer to the mean, in other words be less intelligent. That principle has often been used to predict the consequences of having multi-generational spaceships travel between the stars. Even though the original inhabitants will be selected for their intelligence and dedication, …
About the reviewer

Ranked #237
Member Since: Sep 18, 2009
Last Login: Aug 16, 2014 08:26 PM UTC
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this book


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 theHardcoveredition.
view wiki


Books, Science Fiction, Interstellar Travel, Heinlein, Generation Ship, Mutations, Science & Religion, Conformity


ISBN-10: 0671318454
ISBN-13: 978-0671318451
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Baen
First to Review
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since