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Joel

Columbia, MD, United States | Member Since 2009

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  • Orphans of the Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Robert A. Heinlein
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (323)
    Performance
    (192)
    Story
    (199)

    The Jordan Foundation sponsored the Proxima Centauri Expedition in 2119, in attempt to reach the nearer stars of the galaxy. But that was far in the mythic past. The original purpose of the Ship's epic voyage has long been forgotten, and for generations the giant spaceship, lost between the stars, is the only world that the people aboard have known. A strange civilization has evolved, with its own superstitions, savage religion, rigid class structure and mutant outcasts.

    Noe says: "Our world is a spaceship."
    "Brilliant first half, second half thrown in."
    Overall

    Originally published in two parts, Orphans of the Sky is a brilliant treatment of the concept of a multi-generational interstellar voyage (or "generation ship"). Or, at least the first half is.

    In the first part, "Universe," we meet a mostly agrarian society living in the lower decks of The Ship. The civilized Crew (led by the elite Scientists and headed by the Captain) live in the lower (outer) decks where gravity is strongest; the upper (inner) decks are where where gravity is light and the Muties (mutant descendants of the original mutineers) rule.

    This is a journey gone wrong...a mutiny shortly after take-off disrupted the ship's society, and after many generations, the crew has forgotten they live on a spaceship...they think of the Ship as being the whole of the Universe. A young scientist, Hugh, learns more when he is captured by the Muties.

    "Universe" has been hailed as one of the best and most-important sci-fi novellas ever. It is the first instance of a "generation ship" concept, an idea which has been copied many times. I'm not a particular fan of Robert Heinlein, but this one is great.

    I have less good things to say about "Common Sense," the second half of the book. Hugh, now armed with the truth and a cohort of brutal Muties tries to convince the Scientists and Crew about the true nature of the ship, and that they should steer it to its destination. "Universe" was a seminal, ground-breaking work. "Common Sense" finished up the story (if it needed finishing), but I find it particularly unsatisfying.

    This is the second audiobook narrated by Eric Michael Summerer that I've heard, and he remains a capable and effective narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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