Orphans of the Sky Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Orphans of the Sky

A group of people living on a spaceship that was built to travel to another solar system, however, each generation born forgot that they were living on a spaceship. As machinary broke down without the necessary tools and knowledge to fix them, the generations developed into a mindless group of people just trying to survive. Also each generation gave birth to mutations and defects, due to the radiation of the upper decks of the spaceship. One characther of the book has two heads. The "normal" humans lived in the part of the ship that had gravity and the mutants lived in the upper reaches of the ship where there was no gravity. A human was captured by the mutants and brought to the two-headed leader of the mutants and it was there that the human found out that they were actually on a ship and that they needed to bring other humans up to see the "captain's room" where the outside universe was seen. However, the current leader of the humans, called "Captain" would not be agreeable to go see this wonder, so a plot to assasinate the captain and place a new captain who would agree to the change was developed by the main charachter and the two-headed mutant. It was an interesting read.
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The review of this Book prepared by Joan Timmes

A society of people are lost, drifting in the emptiness of space, living on what is known only to them as "The Ship". They know of no other world. One begins to discover the secret hidden so long, and in doing so threatens the very existence of the society itself.
The review of this Book prepared by Christine O'Leary-Rockey

This has to be one of the shortest Heinlein novels ever, in terms of absolute number of words. This is the story of a multigenerational spaceship on course to another starsystem that loses all of its officers in a mutiny in midflight. Those who survive have no idea how to run a starship, and their descendents even forget the fact that they are on a spaceship, thinking everything around them is the "world"! This huge spaceship is divided into two camps, the humans who inhabit the lower decks, and the mutants who inhabit the upper decks, where the gravity is lighter. One of the humans named Hugh gets caught by a two headed mutant named Jim-Joe and made their manservant. During this time he learns that the ship is actually a ship, and tries to establish a human-mutant alliance to get the ship moving again. After deposing the current leadership in a bloodful coup, the new leadership betrays Hugh and his mutant friends, forcing them to flee the ship in a lifeboat.
The story is an interesting one, if short, and, by Heinlein's standards, bloody. It also has the virtue of having a mixed if not entirely happy ending, at best, but, being short, is a quick read.

The review of this Book prepared by Steve

Chapter Analysis of Orphans of the Sky

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 20%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 10%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 30% Tone of book    -   very upbeat FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Explore:    -   lost in spaceship Repressive society story    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   scientist Age:    -   20's-30's


Spaceship setting:    -   futuristic human freighter/transport    -   really, really giant spaceship/station A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a futuristic society Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes Takes place in spaceship?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths

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Robert A. Heinlein Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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