I read a comedic science fiction novel as a kid, sometime in the early 1970's, in which a man is alone on an enormous (thousands of miles, as I recall) abandoned spaceship. It was very funny (and I realize it sounds a lot like the premise of Red Dwarf, but this was decades earlier). I can't remember much more, and haven't been able to find any clues as to the title. I did wonder if it might be "Venus on the Half-Shell" by Philip Jose Farmer/Kilgore Trout, so I bought a copy of that and skimmed through it, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't it after all.

  • What was funny about it?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 16:05
  • I honestly can't remember anything specific - other than laughing out loud as I read it (I must've been about 12 years old).
    – kfmutch
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 16:11
  • Was it the novel based on the early computer game "Starship Titanic" both by Douglas Adams? Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 6:29
  • Nope, the book I read was much older (I read it in the early 1970's), but thanks for that guess - I hadn't heard of "Starship Titanic" and I enjoyed reading its Wilkipedia entry.
    – kfmutch
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


Update: I finally figured it out. It's Bernhard the Conqueror by Sam Lundwall (DAW books, 1973).

Berhard the Conqueror book cover

Bernhard Rordin, Private E-1 in the Armed Forces of the Galactic Empire is serving a twenty year sentence on a prison planet nicknamed Ol’ Slow Death. One day the massive ship Refanut passes overhead. It’s hard to miss since it’s twenty thousand miles long.

A scoutship lands next to Bernhard. The man is looking for the Pleasure Palaces. He doesn’t know how much time has gone by and that they don’t exist anymore. When he dies Bernhard manages to get into his scoutship and get to the Refanut.

Now he runs into all kinds of bizarre adventures including coming across a door that’s in love with him that ends up putting him into a trash compactor. Also on board is Captain Superhawk and over six hundred officers.

They’re happy to see Bernhard because he’s the only Private they’ve seen and they divide up the time each has to abuse him. He eventually escapes to the Comet. Not much better there.

  • 3
    Once you merge your accounts as per the instructions at stackoverflow.com/help/merging-accounts, you can accept your answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:26
  • Wow, the cover picture doesn't seem to have much to do with the plot.  For that matter, your plot synopsis here doesn't match the question very well — I thought you said he was alone.  (But, yes, this sounds like it could have been at least part of the inspiration for Red Dwarf.) Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 19:57

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