I can't remember the name or author of this generation ship short story, where the (child?) protagonist descends to progressively lower decks and encounters the various unfathomable technologies that make "normal life" possible.


  • The protagonist was a male child, and was at some point scolded over or warned against his wandering too far below.
  • He (?) found various manuals or other printed materials (related to the technical operations of the ship) written in a language/alphabet he didn't recognize.
  • I think there was a discovery of the grisly remains of the engineering staff (I'm less sure of this).

Note that this wasn't a novel or serial; just a short story, maybe 10 pages if printed, though I believe I read it online for free.

I know these themes are hardly unique, so perhaps a tough/ambiguous ask. Sorry ᖍ(ツ)ᖌ, and thanks!

  • @user14111 I've thought of a couple of additional bits (which I'll edit into the question in a second), but I'm afraid I don't have a lot of other details. – cemerick Feb 20 '18 at 19:35
  • Possibly one of the novellas that later became Orphans of the Sky? See the Internet Archive. – Harry Johnston Feb 20 '18 at 21:34
  • 1
    Was there a part where the protagonist finds himself in a water tank or an area flooded with water? I want to say that I've read the same thing... – Otis Mar 3 '18 at 0:45
  • There is a similar story I am familiar with, but it's has mutants, and a anti change religion that despises change. I am interested in the answer. – Garret Gang Mar 26 '18 at 14:01

From Wikipedia Orphans of the Sky is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, consisting of two parts: "Universe" (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1941) and its sequel, "Common Sense" (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1941). The two novellas were first published together in book form in 1963. "Universe" was also published separately in 1951 as a 10¢ Dell paperback. These works contain one of the earliest fictional depictions of a generation ship.

  • Hi there! Could you possibly edit how you think that matches? For instance, with quotes from the story? – Jenayah Dec 30 '18 at 11:39
  • This was suggested in comments on the original question, but no, 'Orphans' is not it. Beyond that, odd that this answer is just a copy/paste of the first paragraph from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphans_of_the_Sky – cemerick Dec 31 '18 at 13:41

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