I read this story as part of an anthology sometime in the early '90s. The protagonist survives a nuclear war but when he comes out of the bomb shelter he is "beamed" up to a mysterious organic starship, along with other survivors from the Earth. I don't really remember any other details other than the protagonist's wife committed suicide as soon as the came out of the shelter.

  • I remember reading this, but can't recall the name. I believe the alien ship was referred to as the 'Lifesphere'.
    – A_Sunday
    Jun 20 '16 at 20:40

This is highly tentative, but Megan Lindholm, also known as Robin Hobb wrote several stories featuring sentient ships. In the novel Alien Earth (1992), a sentient spaceship is one of the main characters, and another main character is an earthman who was taken off-earth (along with others) when the Earth was slowly succombing to ecological disaster. This is probably not the book you remember since being taken off-earth is part of the backstory, not the main story, and there was no nuclear war, but the author used the sentient ship theme in other stories (the Liveship Traders trilogy). So maybe the story you remember is one of her short stories (which I haven't read).


This probably isn't it, but some aspects of your description sound a bit like Farnham's Freehold by Robert Heinlein. I only mention it because there haven't been any other answers in so long.

  • Well, Farnham's Freehold doesn't fit the description, with the exception of the protagonists surviving a nuclear war... But it wouldn't be the first time someone crossed two or more stories in their memory.. I do it all the time. Here's a link to it's Wikipedia page with a pretty good synopsis: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farnham%27s_Freehold
    – K-H-W
    Sep 3 '11 at 2:46
  • Oh, I know it doesn't fit; I just thought the OP might have forgotten a lot. They were, well, not beamed up, but captured by flying machines, and Grace Farnham went kind of nuts though not suicidally so. Hmm, hadn't noticed that the OP was looking for a story in an anthology; that would rule out a full-length novel like FF.
    – Tom Zych
    Sep 3 '11 at 3:11
  • Oh, I totally agree, though.. It has enough elements that it could be part of what they are thinking of.. I blend old stories in my brain all the time that way :)
    – K-H-W
    Sep 3 '11 at 3:16

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