Orphans of the Sky

Robert A. Heinlein
Orphans of the Sky Cover

Interesting Premise, Problematic Content


On a generation ship that has been travelling for so long that its original purpose has become shrouded in religious dogma, one man discovers the truth and sets out to complete their ancient mission.

This is an interesting premise but be forewarned that problematic content abounds. Most prominently, simply because he is present in the narrative more, is the character of Bobo, a mutant dwarf often described or called a moron, idiot or pinhead. However, I found the treatment of the female characters more disturbing. There are not many of them and not more than one spoken line of dialogue among them that I can recall but when they do show up, they are treated like slaves by the men but called wives. This is no more evident than when the hero just decides that he is going to take two wives because he is lonely. One, a new widow from the recent insurrection that he helped foment, he allows to keep her old name, but the other, young and fiery one, he hasn't named yet. However, she does learn not to pester him when he is frustrated after she loses a tooth doing so. This is your hero, folks.

This appears to be one of the first instances of examining a societal breakdown on a generation ship and so has merit as a historical document in that regard, but not everything found here updates well through our modern lens.