All I know about it is humans have long explored large parts of the universe and have yet to find life outside of Earth. The story focuses on the spiritual ramifications of this reality as the inability to find any life amid the billions and billions of stars / planets runs counter to the scientific notion that we are not special but likely one among many.

  • 4
    When did you read it? Do you remember anything about the cover - or the characters of the book? Did it seem to be geared towards a certain age range or audience? Any detail, no matter how small, may help us help you.
    – phantom42
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 21:56
  • 1
    Probably not Frank M. Robinson's The Dark Beyond the Stars. Robinson's novel fits part of your description--"humans have long explored large parts of the universe and have yet to find life outside of earth"--but I don't recall so much focus on the spiritual ramifications.
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 22:14
  • Dune has humans, but no aliens.
    – user35971
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 2:40
  • Yes, it is Norman Spinrad's "Riding the Torch".
    – user51570
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 23:26
  • @user35971 I don't think the sandworms came from earth.
    – user14111
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


This sounds a lot like the novel "Riding the Torch" by Norman Spinrad.

GoodReads Review


Set in the distant future where a convoy of several hundred “torch ships,” containing what is left of mankind, have been traveling through space for more than a 1000 years looking for a new home after Earth went FUBAR. While the convoy meanders through space, the mysterious Council of Pilots coordinate long range survey ships to seeking out habitable planets. The survey pilots, known as “voidsuckers,” are aloof and detached, and spend their time secluded from the rest of the convoy.

And then

When the Council of Pilots announces that one of their scouts has discovered a potentially habitable planet, Jofe is given the rare opportunity of joining the scouting team. What Jofe learns and his experience with the pilots transforms both him and the story and sets the stage of the exploration of the fundamental theme of the story.

Alternate Book Cover

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