(urth) Heinlein's Universe and The Long Sun

Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
Mon Jan 27 06:15:27 PST 2020

On 26/01/2020 19:44, Gem Caccetta wrote:
> I recently came across a three volume set of short stories and 
> novellas called the /Science Fiction Hall of Fame/, edited by Ben Bova 
> in 1975. One of the novellas titled /Universe/, by Robert Heinlein, 
> (written in 1941) takes place on the “Ship”—a generation ship sent off 
> long ago to inhabit another planet, but now drifting because none of 
> the descendants remember the nature or purpose of the ship. What they 
> do remember has degenerated into religious superstition. There is a 
> “Jordan’s Plan” for the ship. There is a powerful two-headed mutant, 
> Joe-Jim, a highly intelligent leader of a mutant gang who has learned 
> of the Ship’s true nature. There is a young, curious man Hugh, 
> captured by Joe-Jim, who is taken to the main control room and shown 
> the stars. Hugh enlists others to take control of the ship and 
> complete Jordan’s Plan….sound familiar?
Certainly a few commonalities there - two headed mutants aren't exactly 
a dime a dozen!  But that said, there are a lot of generation ship sagas 
with some similar features.  Wolfe's Long Sun is unusual for avoiding 
the trope of complete forgetfulness. The Crew (and the Gods/Mainframe) 
know what the deal is, though it looks like they are paralysed without 
orders from Pas, or they don't know how to persuade the Cargo.  And the 
Cargo - or the educated ones - actually know they are on a generation 
ship too, though they have put it to the back of their minds in favour 
of matters related to day to day life (I think Wolfe suggested BotNS 
itself has a similar theme).  Kind of like how everyone on this whorl 
ignores global warming insofar as it means any change in lifestyle!

- Gerry Quinn

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