I remember reading a book around 10-12 years ago about a crew on a spaceship which was in danger of crashing into a either a black-hole or a white dwarf / some other star. The book was semi-humorous in tone, with some comedic characters, but I remember there being some fairly brutal murders (or at least to my young mind they were)

The main plot elements I can remember are:

  • The ship is constructed in Antarctica, possibly using a space ladder
  • The ship is able to react to damage it receives (can repair a bullet hole in glass) and is possibly called the Mayflower or Mayflower II
  • The main character is incapacitated in some manner just after the ship departs, and wakes up several decades after the original flight, so all the members of the crew are different, and slightly mad from being in space their entire lives (and reduced gene pool?)
  • The ship is a wreck, with several engines stopping working and them due to crash
  • People on board the ship begin to be killed off, possibly due to a rogue robot on board killing people
  • At the end, the ship repairs itself and saves all those aboard, due to it's semi-sentience(?)
  • A space ladder at the pole? This book would have to be pretty funny to make me forgive that.
    – Beta
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 4:50
  • @Beta: It is. It includes a scene where the protagonist apologises to mob hitmen for not being the person they were trying to kill. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 10:08

1 Answer 1


This is "Colony" by Rob Grant, published in 2000. The book is a comedy/science-fiction novel by the co-creator of Red Dwarf.

  • The ship (the Willflower) is being constructed by "The Project" at the South Pole.

The energy required for take-off would split the planet in two. So it's being put together in orbit above the point of least spin: the South Pole.

It's tethered to the drowning Earth by the tallest structure in human history: the Hoist. The Hoist -- or, more romantically, the Stairway To Heaven -- is a giant elevator that ferries supplies and personnel to and from the ship.

  • They're going to crash into a massive gas-giant

The ship is way off where Eddie expected it to be. Closer to the planet. Far too close. The massive pull of the gas giant is dragging the Willflower off course towards it. 'And in ninety-six hours...'


The Willflower has gone.

  • The main character is incapacitated after launch and is revived (as a head in a jar) some time after the launch.

  • The ship is indeed a wreck.

  • The main antagonist is a professional hitman paid to kill the hero, revived in the future using the same "head in a jar" technology and driven mad. He spends much of the latter part of the novel attempting to kill the crew (hat tip to @JamesSheridan)

  • I was going to post this. It's not a member of the original crew, however, who goes crazy, but a professional mob hitman who stowed away on the ship to kill the protagonist, Eddie. He was captured, mutilated, placed in stasis and later awoken by the illiterate future crew. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 0:51
  • That sounds like the book. :) Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 7:58

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.