25 or 30 years ago I came across an old book that I would like to find again. Here is what I can remember:

  • Takes place on a generation space ship.
  • Children run the ship through the use of a "religion".
  • When you reach a certain age you leave the living area to make room for the newborn.
  • One kid breaks rules and discovers the computer can teach them how to fix the stuff that has broken.
    • He gets cast out.
  • That kid finds the last adult living in the zero-g area due to his age and a bad heart.
    • The old guy has to help the kids before the ship falls apart.

Would like to reread this story if you can help me find it.

  • 2
    ♫ "Who run the ship? kids. Who run the ship? kids. Who run this motha? Who run this motha?" ♫
    – Möoz
    Jul 2, 2017 at 23:09
  • @kmt970: There's two of us who posted about the same book in a short amount of time. :) You can accept either one by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons, if indeed we guessed correctly.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 2, 2017 at 23:25
  • @FuzzyBoots That's the right answer, for sure. The only thing that doesn't match is there are no newborns in the book.
    – Buzz
    Jul 3, 2017 at 0:11
  • @Kmt970: Did you get a chance to check out the library book?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 19, 2017 at 16:52
  • see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/9679/… (about the series of which the probable answers below are part)
    – Otis
    Sep 30, 2021 at 13:54

4 Answers 4


End of Exile by Ben Bova, third book of his Exile trilogy

You might not recognize any of this crew from Flight of Exiles (1972) as it's some years and a whole test tube generation later, but their situation will be instantly recognizable to space travel initiates. A primitive priestess whose ceremonial robe is an old electric blanket. . . a set of commandments that is really the tape-recorded last words of Jerlet, before he went upstairs to a healthier, zero-gravity environment. . . superstitious kids who don't realize that their "world" is really a robot-controlled megarocket. One of them, Linc, does realize and learns to fix the machines in time for a final course 'correction and a happy landing on the earthlike planet Beryl. Despite some dismal gimmickry (salvation is effected at the last minute by a matter transfer machine, the ship has been supplied with a zillion year stock of o.j. and soyburgers) and thin personalities (females seem particularly weak-willed, even the wily priestess Magda), Linc's lonely voice of rationality and love of tinkering keep this humming smoothly. Programmed escape.


This sounds like it could be Ben Bova's Exiles Trilogy

This was a combination omnibus of three smaller novellas. I believe the part your are recalling is the 3rd novella in which Jerlet is the last remaining adult who is watching over the kids who have been raised in the ship.


I remember another book series (not "The Exiles Trilogy") which could fit the bill. I am not sure about the details of the story any more, but the space ship was a sort of child hospital ship named EUKALYPTUS (even though its original purpose was deep space colonization or so), so it contained lots of sick kids. The adults had, at some point, abandoned the ship - it is assumed that they assumed some catastrophic event would destroy the ship, but this didn't happen. However, the ship left into deep space. The ship was shaped like a dumbbell (two spheres connected with a cylinder), had lots of decks with sizes of several kilometers across and featuring (artificial) jungles and deserts. The ships also has an untested propulsion system which allows FTL travel (even though still "slow" considering the interstellar distances). The reasons why this ship was re-purposed as a child hospital might be of political nature.

I also remember a robot, who had some sort of attitude (compared to the usual worker robots on the ship, who acted like robots, but were disguised as teddy bears).

The single human adult on board is Daniel Locke, whom the children find in "deep sleep" in a "glass coffin" in a section of the ship normally not accessible to the children. In book #2 it is revealed that he suffers from a "dangerous sickness" which cannot be healed by Earth doctors, so they put him into deep freeze. Also in book #2, the children meet alien "space doctors" who find a cure for Locke's disease (even though it takes one of them 10 days!) and revive him.

I read the book in German and I am not sure in which languages it was available. The authors were Germans.

Authors: Hans J. Alpers / Ronald M. Hahn

Title: Raumschiff der Kinder

Here's #2 of the series (in German, ISBN 3-7709-0388-9, published in 1977): https://www.scribd.com/document/46504849/Alpers-Hans-J-Hahn-Ronald-M-Raumschiff-Der-Kinder-Band-2-Planet-Der-Raufbolde-1977

There seem to be only German language editions. Apparently, there were six books in this series:

  • Das Raumschiff der Kinder, 1977
  • Planet der Raufbolde, 1977
  • Wrack aus der Unendlichkeit, 1977

The first three books also appeared in a collection: "Raumschiff außer Kontrolle", 1985.

  • Bei den Nomaden des Weltraums, 1977
  • Die rätselhafte Schwimminsel, 1978
  • Ring der dreißig Welten, 1979

These three also appeared in a collection: "Weltraumvagabunden", 1986.

  • 1
    Looks like a good suggestion. Even if there were already an accepted answer, we accept "also matching" answers because they may help those in the future seeking a similar book.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 4, 2017 at 15:56

You might be thinking of Robert A. Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphans_of_the_Sky. It is probably the first generation ship story and partly matches your criteria:

  • it's a generation ship
  • and it's got a religious component

It isn't a perfect match:

  • I don't think the ending is as you describe
  • How is it, and how is it not, a match?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 4, 2017 at 16:47
  • The Ben Bova trilogy seems familiar. Will get it from library and see if it is the one. Thank you for the help.
    – Kmt970
    Jul 10, 2017 at 14:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.