Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tom Godwin's "The Survivors" aka "Space Prison" (novel, survival, free): Never give up hope

Cover image of the 1958 novel titled The Survivors aka Space Prison by Tom GodwinAt some level, there is a similarity with Harry Harrison's "Deathworld". This, however, is a much better (but still grim) story - particularly the superb first half.

Story summary.

Human colony ship Constellation with 8000 passengers on board is attacked & forced to surrender by (humanoid?) aliens called Gerns, while it is on its way to colonize a world called Athena - only earth-like uninhabited world yet known to humanity. Humans have been at war with Gerns & losing; this colony ship had slipped through aliens' earth cordon, but got unlucky.

Aliens claim Athena for themselves, divide the passengers into those whose skills they can use & the rest ("Rejects") - about 4000 to each groups, with families broken arbitrarily. Former will be enslaved, later dumped to die on an uninhabitable & extremely hostile world with two suns called Ragnarok.

This is an epic story of the survival of the Rejects on Ragnarok through many generations & through enormous losses & sacrifices. 200 odd years & many generations later, they will get their revenge.

Notes.

Four local animals of Ragnarok - prowlers, unicorns, woods goats, & mockers - play a major role in the story.
  1. Prowlers are carnivores, eventually domesticated in the role equivalent to dogs - but a lot of men will be felled before that.
  2. Unicorns have a role somewhat similar to untamable horses, & will also kill a lot of men.
  3. Woods goats will eventually domesticated as cattle.
  4. Mockers are little creatures that are telepathic among themselves & with humans, & can speak like humans as parrots do; they will serve not only as pets but also as wireless communication links.

Fact sheet.

First published: 1958.
Rating: A.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg, Manybooks, Feedbooks, or Webscription (5 pages beginning here).
Related: Stories of Tom Godwin.

2 comments:

Shirley Marie Bradby said...

Thank you for writing such an excellent review of Tom Godwin's incredible novel "Space Prison" aka "The Survivors"! My opinion?

Let me start with: Wow! (smile)
I just finished reading this inspiring book last night! I literally could not put it down! Great story of survival: where personal and individual strengths, talents, and intelligence are used in an organized and concerted effort....to first survive an extremely hostile and lethal environment and then eventually ...to get revenge --- even it it takes 200 years and many generations later!

Moreover,I think that the ending was totally realistic and not too sentimental or mushy! A really good read! Now, I intend to read some of Tom Godwins other books and stories! I am hooked! :))

Anonymous said...

I first read this book 53 years ago and never forgot the title or the story. My older brother was a Mech.Engineering student at Virginia Tech and heavily into SiFi. I got to read his books when he was finished.He never made it into space , but did have a great career at NASA (SKYLAB and The Shuttle Program).Last week I thought of checking online for the book and tonight ordered a copy for my grandsons. All four are prolific readers and love SiFi. The eldest is 17...the same age that I was when I was so impressed by Tom Godwins' book.