There's a book I remember reading sometime around 1981 or 1982 about a colony/generation starship where kids were raised by robots who gave them something in their food that kept the kids from maturing until they reached their destination... or something like that. Unfortunately, I don't remember much more about the plot, except that it was definately a "coming of age" book.

  • Not the story you're looking for, but there was a book called Flight of the Dragonfly which had a longevity drug which reduced adults to child like state and they were attended to by a robot/AI for the duration of their voyage. – Mr. Smythe Aug 28 '15 at 17:16

This is probably Earthsearch by James Follett.

I know it as a radio drama, but it was published as a book too.

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  • My first thought was "Earthsearch" too. I think the book is out of print but the original radio series is available from Audible. – Wallnut Apr 22 '16 at 13:52

It's a bit of a long shot, but Earthseed by Pamela Sargent was published in 1983, and is about a colony ship where the kids were basically raised by robots controlled by the Ship (who acted as mother/father to them). It's definitely a "coming of age" book, but there's nothing in it about something in the food keeping the kids from maturing. Most of the book is spent in "The Hollow", a large expanse of wilderness that the kids have to survive in.

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It's "Voyage from Yesteryear" by James Hogan

The story opens early in the 21st century, as an automated space probe is being prepared for a mission to explore habitable exoplanets in the Alpha Centauri system. However, Earth appears destined for a global war which the probe designers fear that humanity may not survive. It appears that the only chance for the human species is to reestablish itself far away from the conflict but there is no time left for a manned expedition to escape Earth. The team, led by Henry B. Congreve, change their mission priority and quickly modify the design to carry several hundred sets of electronically coded human genetic data. Also included in this mission of embryo space colonization is a databank of human knowledge, robots to convert the data into genetic material, care for the children and construct habitats when the destination is reached and a number of artificial wombs. The probe's designers name it the Kuan-Yin after the bodhisattva of childbirth and compassion.

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  • There are generation ships, but I can't find anything about drugs to retard maturation. – FuzzyBoots Apr 22 '16 at 13:03

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