Orphans of the Sky

Robert A. Heinlein

1963 (Fixup)

Hugh Hoyland is a member of the Crew of the Ship owing his loyalty to the Captain and despising the muties that infest the upper levels of the ship.

Unlike most of the Crew who don't suffer from the problem of curiosity, Hugh's always heading up into the low weight areas of the Ship. He's also been singled out to be a member of the Scientist Caste and he enters into the role of Power Converter watch with an innocence that is rapidly eroded by the cynicism of the Chief Engineer.

His explorations into the low weight areas continued, but unlike in childhood, he's alone and there was no one to watch his back for muties and he's soon a prisoner of Jim Joe a twin headed mutie gang leader who holds him prisoner and introduces him to the vast wealth of unknown books. And the secrets of the Control Room and the Captain's Veranda, which show him the truth! That the Ship is not the whole universe, but only a small part of it.

His efforts to persuade the rest of the Scientists of the truth end up with him ready to be fed to the Converter on charges of mutiny, but Hugh's mutie friends are persuaded to go and rescue him, taking the Chief Engineer prisoner in the meantime. Together, the two Scientists, along with Jim Joe and Hugh's best friend, Alan work out that the Ship is nearing the end of the Journey, but they still have to persuade the captain that it's time to end the Journey. But the captain has only just come to power and instinctively realises that this will come to an end with the end of the Journey, so Hugh and his colleagues have to go on the run once more. This time off the Ship as a whole!

The novel is an interesting examination of the Lost Colony ship sub genre, and given that it was originally published in two parts during WW2, it is possibly the earliest such story, despite a relatively late publication in book form. Hugh is a fairly typical Heinlein hero in that he sees the direction that he should go in and is able to make others see the wiseness of that course of action with a minimum of fuss.

This is a Gollancz Classic Science Fiction edition

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