Author(s): Robert A. HeinleinDownload
A fix-up consisting of the novelette “Universe” (1941) and the novella “Common Sense” (1941). First published in 1963.Hugh had been taught that, according to the ancient sacred writings, the Ship was on a voyage to faraway Centaurus. But he also understood this was actually allegory for a voyage to spiritual perfection. Indeed, how could the Ship move, since its miles and miles of metal corridors were all there was of creation? Science knew that the Ship was all the Universe, and as long as the sacred Convertor was fed, the lights would continue to glow and the air would flow, and the Creator’s Plan would be fulfilled.Of course, there were the muties, grotesquely deformed parodies of humans, who lurked in the upper reaches of the Ship where gravity was weaker. Were they evil incarnate, or merely a divine check on the population, keeping humanity from expanding past the capacity of the Ship to support?Then Hugh was captured by the muties and met their leader (or leaders), Joe-Jim, with two heads on one body. And he learned the true nature of the Ship and its mission between the stars. But could he make his people believe him before it was to late? Could he make them believe that he must be allowed to fly the ship?
Some Reviews: 433 in Goodreads.com
I had already read Universe, and at first I didnt know that this was Universe and its sequel – Common Sense in one volume.
The basis idea in Universe – that a multi-generational interstellar had a mutiny mid trip and never reached its destination – is interesting in itself. The idea that they think their whole universe is the ship itself is so easily recognizable. It reminded me of Ramsis II – who lived over 90 years in a time when the typical lifespan was 30. It made for a case where almost literally everyone alive at some point, never knew a time when he wasnt Pharoah. In a world without external media to sway the hearts and minds of the common folk, why wouldnt you believe he was indeed GOD on Earth?
I love the fleshing out of it with the specific examples of direct technical terms, being misrepresented as allegory rings so true, I found myself picking out examples of it in everyday life.
Common Sense felt a little forced to me, like he just wanted to cram a “Happy” ending onto the excellent kernel of thought that was the original Universe. All in all though this has to be among the top 5 sci-fi stories of all time. Throw in Niven’s Integral Trees, Farmers Dark is the Sun, and you have a great start on your way to a well rounded portfolio of the all-time greats
This was a nice short story (it IS short compared to some of Heinlein’s other work) with a enjoyable premise and plot. The only real flaw of this book was that this story was published by itself, when it would have been better as part of a collection. I understand that it WAS part of a series, but for whatever reason, this new publication isolates this story. But like I said, that’s it only real flaw, because I wanted to know what happened after the ending and had to read it somewhere else.
Edit-I didn’t find out until later that this story was actually part of a collection, happening within the same ‘universe’ as many of his other works, and that the fate of the Ship is revealed in another novel. I only wish the publisher had handled the publication of these books better, I was a fairly new Heinlein reader when I read this book.
This was fun, RAH explores some fascinating ideas here all concerning: what sort of society might emerge from generations of people living on a spaceship traveling to a distant star?
He touches on concepts of observable reality, how science can tend towards religiousity, the geocentric nature of time, what it might be like to have two heads, and lots of other clever concepts and extrapolations. This book was relatively short and definitely light on character development and plot; choosing to focus, almost entirely, on the “what if….”. Which I think, is where Heinlein excells.
Super fun concept for a book. The people born on the ship don’t know anything about it and a really interesting exploration of what that might entail and how things may play out. I was hooked from the start and enjoyed every minute of it.
I’ve seen similar stories told time and time again. Judging by the year of publication (1963) and when these two stories were originally written (1941) it seems likely that whatever else I read was either inspired by this or independently inspired. A few examples that come to mind at the manga To Terra (which inspired an anime film and series) which similarly has people living on a space station not knowing it is all their is and a sub plot of killing the mutants. An episode of The Orville explored a very similar concept.
I dug all of the physics this plays with as they get lighter as they go “up” and how the space station like ship might work. Some attention to detail which Heinlein does well when he tries to but often doesn’t bother to in light of other elements.
Joe Jim was a very interesting character. Seemingly some complex mutant with two independent heads but in reality likely just a conjoined twin, something which very much exists today, just in a specific way.
A few shortcomings which may somewhat be due to the book’s age. At the end of the day I would have like to see a bit more sympathy for the Muties. Surely the book presents them in a somewhat positive light but still has them almost as beastial, except for Joe Jim. We still do have some affection for Bobo.
Women are nearly non existent in this story. They exist as objects with no personalities or even speech (do any even have dialogue?). They are only briefly considered as the main characters “take” wives which the wives seem to have almost no say in this. They seem to simply be a plot device because a bunch of men can’t exactly start a colony.
All around very enjoyable.
Orphans of the Sky is the skeleton of what could have been a much richer and more robust story. The way that it is so tightly encapsulated and the manner in which it is delivered in such a reasonable dose makes it great, regardless of its lack of depth. This truly wonderful morsel is tainted, in typical Heinlein fashion, by a smattering of his signature chauvinistic, female-denigrating behavior. His characters needlessly berate and physically abuse the few minor female roles and I wish that it was more acceptable to revise these classic (and otherwise captivating) works and re-release them without the “of the times” social missteps that they all seem to have.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved this lil paperback, but I wish it was a bit different.
The direct download links after 2 shortened URLs. We depend on ad revenue to keep maintaining this site for you to enjoy for free.