Orphans of the Sky

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Tin-Man's picture
Orphans of the Sky

"Hugh had been taught that, according to the sacred writings, the Ship was on a voyage to faraway Centaurus. But he also understood that this was 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. But then he discovered the truth..."

This is a passage from Robert A. Heinlein's "Orphans of the Sky." It is a fascinating and fun to read story about a starship sent from Earth's solar system to colonize the planet of a distant star system. Due to complications encountered along the way, the ship becomes stuck in a perpetual orbit between the two systems. As a result, many generations of humans come and go within the self-sustaining environment of the massive ship, totally isolated from any and all outside contact. During that time, an entirely new social hierarchy gradually develops around a "religion" based on the ship's "history." There is a great deal of action, drama, and even some good humor in this story that draws the reader in and gives one pause to consider how so many religions may have developed within isolated societies throughout the centuries here on our own little planet of Earth. Heinlein is a master story teller, and I have read most all of his books. I can honestly say "Orphans of the Sky" ranks within my top five favorites. If anybody reads it, I would love to hear any feedback you have to offer. Enjoy.

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MCD's picture
Heinlein is a genius

Heinlein is a genius

Tin-Man's picture
@MCD

@MCD

Yeah, the man can certainly write. I have read pretty much all of his books. Granted, there are a couple that spin out there quite a ways "chuckle*, but overall he creates some fantastic worlds. And many of them are interconnected in some form or fashion throughout most of his books.

MCD's picture
I even enjoyed ... dare I say

I even enjoyed ... dare I say it... Starship Troopers

Tin-Man's picture
@MCD Re: Starship Troopers

@MCD Re: Starship Troopers

Yes, you can most certainly dare say. That is the first Heinlein book I ever read. Totally loved it. Actually, my favorite. (I think Orphans of the Sky may be a close second, though.) Troopers is the one that got me searching for more, however. And if anybody wants a good understanding of my "morality views", I refer them to chapter 8 of Starship Troopers. Fantastic book.

Oh, Heinlein's "The Rolling Stones" is good for a few laughs, by the way.

Nyarlathotep's picture
While I don't agree with the

While I don't agree with the book's politics, there is no doubt that Starship Troopers was an influential book. The movie was not really my cup of tea.

Tin-Man's picture
@Nyar

@Nyar

Well, I saw the movie before I ever even knew it was a book. And the movie in and of itself was entertaining and fun to watch, for the most part. It was actually a couple of years after the movie that I read the book. Two TOTALLY different stories. (Had to double check a couple of times to make sure they were related. lol) Being prior military, though, I definitely related much more to the book.

Ligeia's picture
I heard Stranger in a Strange

I heard Stranger in a Strange Land in my mid-20s. I was a truck driver at the time. Just me and my partner Kenworth on the open road, with a stack of audiobooks. I didn't know what it was about at first, but I quickly grew to love it. That book, and 2 years on the lonely road, changed my life in profound ways. I happily chewed my way through all the Lazarus Long books too, among others. I became a bit different with each read or listen. I find myself more uncomfortable around groups of people as the years go by, but im generally less neurotic about most things. I get bored with my place and my gypsy spirit itches madly sometimes. I also changed my ideas about sex and my body for the better, and became a hardcore atheist instead of a pleaser pretending faith I didn't have. I need a Jubal Harshaw in my life. I haven't read Orphans of the Sky yet. But I certainly will now!

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Tin-Man's picture
@Ligeia Re: Heinlein

@Ligeia Re: Heinlein

Yeah, "Stranger in a Strange Land" was a good one. Been a long time since I read it, but it left a bit of an impression on me, as I recall. May have to read it again with my new mindset, as I was still mildly under the "religion spell" during my first reading. lol

I guess Heinlein holds a special place in my heart because he was sorta one of my first stepping stones toward my finally being able to completely free myself. I've read just about all of his books at this point, and I sometimes enjoy imagining myself as a citizen of some of the worlds he creates. Thanks for your input, and let me know what you think of Orphans of the Sky. It is a fun story (in my opinion).

Ligeia's picture
I think there's a word we

I think there's a word we need in the English language. In Heinlein, the word "grok". I don't think we have an equivalent. Grok means to drink, but also to understand thoroughly, to become one with, and a lot of other things. Nobody groks with me. I think that's the issue. I'm too much for most people lol

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Welcome to the club!

Welcome to the club!

athiestSapiens's picture
If I’m not mistaken, the

If I’m not mistaken, the ‘Vanguard’ was actually the first starship expedition to Alpha Centauri. Due to a mutiny, it overshot it’s target and just kept going.

Glad to see people still interested in RAH’a work and philosophies. The quote I like best is: “Don’t call me an atheist unless you are really looking for trouble.” (From ‘If This Goes On’. I once had an opportunity to talk with him about it. The old gentleman was deep.

Tin-Man's picture
Howdy, AtheistSapiens.

Howdy, AtheistSapiens.
Great having another Heinlein fan around. Yep, that is the general premise of the story. It is very enlightening how he describes the development of the ship's "religion" throughout the story. Aside from that, another aspect I enjoy contemplating is how realistically feasible would it be for such a self-contained system to function for that length of time. Mr. RAH certainly did have an amazing mind.

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