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DOOMED Crushing gravity--thin air--winters of unimaginable cold--searing summers under two suns--a deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever-- That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen--and women and children--were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. In th DOOMED Crushing gravity--thin air--winters of unimaginable cold--searing summers under two suns--a deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever-- That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen--and women and children--were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. In the morning, the survivors knew what they must live for--revenge! AFTER TWO CENTURIES.... The sound came swiftly nearer, rising in pitch and swelling in volume. Then it broke through the clouds, tall and black and beautifully deadly--the Gern battle cruiser, come to seek them out and destroy them. Humbolt dropped inside the stockade, exulting. For two hundred years his people had been waiting for the chance to fight the mighty Gern Empire ... ... with bows and arrows against blasters and bombs!


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DOOMED Crushing gravity--thin air--winters of unimaginable cold--searing summers under two suns--a deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever-- That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen--and women and children--were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. In th DOOMED Crushing gravity--thin air--winters of unimaginable cold--searing summers under two suns--a deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever-- That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen--and women and children--were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. In the morning, the survivors knew what they must live for--revenge! AFTER TWO CENTURIES.... The sound came swiftly nearer, rising in pitch and swelling in volume. Then it broke through the clouds, tall and black and beautifully deadly--the Gern battle cruiser, come to seek them out and destroy them. Humbolt dropped inside the stockade, exulting. For two hundred years his people had been waiting for the chance to fight the mighty Gern Empire ... ... with bows and arrows against blasters and bombs!

30 review for Space Prison

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason Mills

    Tom Godwin's place in SF history is secured by his classic short story, The Cold Equations, in which human concerns batter uselessly against an indifferent universe; so I was intrigued to find out what he could achieve at greater length. Alas, not much. A human colonising spaceship is captured by the evil Gerns, who dump the unwanted half of the colonists on a hostile planet called Ragnarok, expecting them to die. Indeed, most of them do, falling prey to the local fauna, climate and diseases, as Tom Godwin's place in SF history is secured by his classic short story, The Cold Equations, in which human concerns batter uselessly against an indifferent universe; so I was intrigued to find out what he could achieve at greater length. Alas, not much. A human colonising spaceship is captured by the evil Gerns, who dump the unwanted half of the colonists on a hostile planet called Ragnarok, expecting them to die. Indeed, most of them do, falling prey to the local fauna, climate and diseases, as well as the strain of the 1.5g gravity. However, some few survive (the novel's original and better title was The Survivors) and arrange that their descendants will not forget the wrong done to them by the Gerns. Then ensues a couple of centuries of harsh adaptation and scheming for revenge. Meh. This mundane and linear plot might have been enlivened by a colourfully imagined setting and engaging characters; but neither is present. The fauna seem entirely unexotic (there are goat-analogs that even provide milk, for heaven's sake!) and the planet, despite its extreme climatic swings, sounds boringly Earth-like. Even the Gerns are just humans with no sense of humour, spluttering and fuming like badly-written Bond villains: give me Vogons any day. However, it's the characterisation that really lets the book down. Peter Hamilton would have gotten a thousand pages out of this story, no bother, and peopled it with vibrant characters; but Godwin (writing, to be fair, in 1958, long before the age of the blockbuster) tries to tell his 200-year epic in 160 pages, and it ends up feeling more like a synopsis than a novel. 'Characters' flash past, lucky to be granted a first name, let alone a motivation. We're given no time to get to know or care about anyone, and their single-minded vengeful bloodlust is not attractive to the modern eye even when it's well conveyed. Probably the best-developed character is a talkative chipmunk, who, like everyone else, dies within a few pages. Worse still, the sexual politics are anything but futuristic. There are barely any women in this book, and what heroism they are permitted is almost entirely confined to the domain of motherhood. After two centuries of shared pioneer survival, the "women and children" are still sent to hide when the enemy shows up. In this respect, the book tells us more about the past than the future! On top of all this - and prose that is plain, bordering on clumsy - there is some wildly implausible plotting. For example, a great deal of effort is spent (by colonists and author) on building an electric smelter to extract aluminium to make wire to build a generator to power a hyperspace transmitter. But no explanation is offered as to what was used for wire in the smaller generator built to power the smelter! And whilst the humans advance from zero-tech to hi-tech over ten generations, the Gerns have not so much as changed the internal layout of their spaceships! I think Godwin intended this story to be an optimistic portrayal of the human spirit grasping opportunities and overcoming adversity; but to me it seemed like a bunch of dogmatic psychotics blindly pursuing their ancestors' outdated agenda, engaging in torture and hinting at genocide to come. I was kinda hoping they'd fail. Instead, the book does.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Troy G

    Amazon recommend this book to me, and I'm glad they did. I make a habit of skipping sci fi books published before 1990, but I've been on a colonizationg kick ever since I read "The Last Colony" by John Scalzi. A bunch of colonists get dumped off on a fairly hostile planet with no technology, and have to survive with what they can find and make there. This book still works because it depends little on advanced technology that seems quaint / rediculous to me. Most of the technology is on the level Amazon recommend this book to me, and I'm glad they did. I make a habit of skipping sci fi books published before 1990, but I've been on a colonizationg kick ever since I read "The Last Colony" by John Scalzi. A bunch of colonists get dumped off on a fairly hostile planet with no technology, and have to survive with what they can find and make there. This book still works because it depends little on advanced technology that seems quaint / rediculous to me. Most of the technology is on the level of city walls, waterwheels, and crossbows. The other reason I avoid old sci fi books is that the stories are just too predictable. In the early going, Space Prison seemed to be headed in that way. One character moved to prominance in a way that might as well be him declaring, "My name is Preston. I will be the hero of this story. Stick with me, and we will all get through this." Then the book became brutal. Really brutal. Characters die, and generally in meaningless ways. But that is what I would expect would happen to a group of ill equipted settlers put down on a hostile planent. They don't understand the world at first, and the gaining of understanding comes at an incredibly high price. We learn about the world along with them, and I also learned several things about physics, geology, and even animal husbandry as I read the book. The author did his research very well. The story covers alot of time. Over 200 years. That is really what it had to do for the colonists to adapt to the world and learn how to survive and thrive there. I love this book. I wish there were more books like it. I wish more authors would do their research without spending overmuch time dweling on technobable. I recommend this book to anyone who can tolerate the loss of beloved characters.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trike

    I read this because the recent novel Semiosis reminded me of it. The weird thing is that I don’t recall having read this. I must’ve just seen the synopsis at some point and remembered that. The two books are remarkably similar: colonists are stranded on an inhospitable world not of their choosing, where they must combat the elements, 1.5 gravity, and semi-intelligent natives in order to overcome adversity, eventually battling aliens, and the story is told over a period of about 160 years in succe I read this because the recent novel Semiosis reminded me of it. The weird thing is that I don’t recall having read this. I must’ve just seen the synopsis at some point and remembered that. The two books are remarkably similar: colonists are stranded on an inhospitable world not of their choosing, where they must combat the elements, 1.5 gravity, and semi-intelligent natives in order to overcome adversity, eventually battling aliens, and the story is told over a period of about 160 years in successive generations during which brutal things happen. It makes me wonder if Burke read this book and accidentally regurgitated it years later. The primary difference is that in Semiosis the humans do it to themselves, while here the humans are taken captive by hostile aliens and stranded to die. Despite the fact this was written in 1958 and has that era’s white male privilege all over it, I much preferred this book. The women aren’t wallflowers by any means — in fact, two of the strongest and most courageous characters are women. But they never rise to leadership positions, mostly because that just wasn’t done in the 1950s. It would be easy to simply substitute one of the male tribal leaders with a woman... which is exactly what Burke did with Semiosis. This book is kind of thin on character but moves at a brisk clip. It’s implausible the way much older SF is, but we have 60 years of scientific and technological advances under our belt today, so some of that is excusable. After all, when Godwin wrote this, TV had only existed for about 8 years. It’s available for free at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22549...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    Crushing gravity. Thin air. Winters of unimaginable cold Searing summers under two suns. A deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever. That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen -- and women and children -- were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. Crushing gravity. Thin air. Winters of unimaginable cold Searing summers under two suns. A deadly wasteland teeming with mons Crushing gravity. Thin air. Winters of unimaginable cold Searing summers under two suns. A deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever. That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen -- and women and children -- were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. Crushing gravity. Thin air. Winters of unimaginable cold Searing summers under two suns. A deadly wasteland teeming with monsters and killing fever. That was Ragnarok, the most dreaded planet yet discovered. And Ragnarok was where a thousand untrained Earthmen -- and women and children -- were brutally marooned by a sadistic enemy. Two hundred died the first night. In the morning, the survivors knew what they must live for...revenge!(less) I know this book as prison planet. It is one of my all time favorite books. I have read it about five times.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    The thing you need to know going into this is: It's a big story. I don't mean long; I mean big. If you expect to be presented with characters whose heads you can get into, whose individual stories you can get involved with, this book is likely to disappoint you. It isn't the story of a single character, or even a small group. It's the story of a civilization developing almost from scratch. How much from scratch? It goes like this: The Gerns have attacked Earth. A shipload of humans flees in the d The thing you need to know going into this is: It's a big story. I don't mean long; I mean big. If you expect to be presented with characters whose heads you can get into, whose individual stories you can get involved with, this book is likely to disappoint you. It isn't the story of a single character, or even a small group. It's the story of a civilization developing almost from scratch. How much from scratch? It goes like this: The Gerns have attacked Earth. A shipload of humans flees in the direction of a planet called Athena, whose resources are humanity's last hope for survival. In transit, they are intercepted by the Gerns. Those with skills useful to their new overlords are taken as slaves; four thousand men, women, and children deemed useless are dumped on a planet called Ragnarok with minimal supplies to sustain them. Ragnarok boasts a gravity 1.5 times Earth's, a binary star system that gives the planet a weather cycle swinging back and forth between extreme heat and extreme cold, no significant deposits of metals or minerals which could be used to build helpful things like spaceships or weapons, a "hell fever" that kills overnight, and at least three species of animals intent on killing these new interlopers. Also, it's the beginning of winter, and the Gerns don't provide the humans with niceties like shelter. This is intended to be an execution. It's rough. It's really rough. Four thousand dwindle to under a hundred in the space of a few years and the humans are reduced to near stone-age levels of civilization. But the scant handful of survivors are just that -- survivors. And they hate the Gerns with a blazing passion that drives them to take the only practical view of their situation: the long term. They expect the Gerns to return, in fact actively work to lure them back, and the intervening time is not spent in idleness. Knowledge is preserved until it can be useful again, each new generation is better adapted to Ragnarok, and the humans begin to claw their way back up out of the abyss into which they have been thrown. In broad terms, I liked it as long as I could look at it in the appropriate context. I warn my readers about the nature of the story not to drive them away, but because I did not understand it at first and found myself disliking the story for the personal details it skipped, the continual killing off of what seemed to be main characters, the appalling madonna complex all the female characters seemed to have (product of the '50's? yes indeedy), and the rather simplistic nature of the basic overarching plot. I think it was after the fourth or fifth viewpoint character died, though, that I started to get it. This is not a story about Irene, or Bill, or any of their descendants. It isn't even really the story of a scrappy band of humans triumphing over cruel alien invaders. It's about what happens when you dump a bunch of people on a planet with everything against them and no resources, and they have to be tough and innovative and yet also cooperative to survive. And most of all, they have to think not just of their own survival, but of how their actions can allow future generations to survive even longer, how they can ensure freedom for their great-great-grandchildren if they can't get it for themselves. It's never about the character you're looking at, it's about the next generation, and the one after that, and the one after that. As long as you look at it like that, it's a fairly interesting little thought-experiment. It does have some serious faults. There are times when things seem almost a little too easy -- which is quite a feat given what the humans are up against. Time seems to have stood still outside of the immediate scope of Ragnarok while all this evolution was going on. There are places where a spouse, a child, a relative, a friend springs up seemingly from nowhere and even if this character's life isn't the point it might have been nice to have a teeny bit of background slipped in. There are things about Ragnarok itself that don't quite make sense to me. Theoretical knowledge of things no one has seen or done for generations seems to transmit remarkably well to practical skill. And really, honestly, no one does seem to have given much thought to what happens after this story is over, which... For people who spend generations plotting their escape, seems a little short-sighted. In a weird sort of way, though, this almost complements the story itself. The humans dropped on Ragnarok have had to put aside everything that wasn't relevant to their project of surviving long enough to get off the planet again. Given that they are required to maintain a certain level of theoretical knowledge in order to have any hope of success, even if things like operating a blaster and flying a Gern cruiser are beyond their actual technical capabilities, what gets kept is sort of eclectic and might not appear to make sense if you don't have a good feel for their goals and methods. Likewise, Godwin has neglected everything that wasn't directly relevant to the core concept of this group of people starting from the bottom and working their way back up through the layers of civilization. The point is to have hostile species on the planet, not to explain said species' motivations; the point is that there is another generation, not the story of its conception; the point is how these people rise from the depths, not what they see or where they go when they return to the heights. The point is that the struggle exists and where it goes, not to detail every last movement of the battle. In that respect, I'd call this work successful. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a good piece of broad-scope old-school sci-fi. The arc is very different from that of most fiction we're used to, and that does take a little effort to assimilate, but it's well worth it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    M.E.

    4.5 stars, rounding up to 5. A revenge story spanning more than 200 years, this short novella is a high action page turner straight out of the 1950’s Sci Fi pulps. If you want lengthy back stories and character histories or explorations of deep emotional meaning, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for action oriented high adventure in space and on a hostile alien world you could a lot worse that this one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shantay

    I really like this book. It is a good read and very entertaining. Some parts were very sad however, knowing that it was a means to an end helped. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the Sci-Fi genre. Though many children and animals die in the book so if that is not your cup of tea then I say pass this book up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Tom Godwin's "Space Prison" (originally named "The Survivors") was an enjoyable read, but far from a masterpiece. As said before by many others, it is almost impossible to come to like any of the characters. They show up for a chapter or two, then quickly die off, replaced by their descendants. I understand that Godwin couldn't focus too much on characters, as he is writing over a span of two hundred years, but a character who gets more than a few paragraphs would have been nice. The idea of a Tom Godwin's "Space Prison" (originally named "The Survivors") was an enjoyable read, but far from a masterpiece. As said before by many others, it is almost impossible to come to like any of the characters. They show up for a chapter or two, then quickly die off, replaced by their descendants. I understand that Godwin couldn't focus too much on characters, as he is writing over a span of two hundred years, but a character who gets more than a few paragraphs would have been nice. The idea of a hellish planet that breeds a race of super humans is a fun idea, but was done much better in Harry Harrison's "Death World." Here, the planet is much too earth like. They have goats for god's sake! I did enjoy the inclusion of a monstrous bull like creature called a unicorn though. It was fairly amusing to have a character scream, "Unicorns!" and have everyone run in terror. The redeeming feature of this book is its survival story and the ultimate triumph of "savage earth men" over the sophisticated gerns. I love a good survival story, and the promise of a large battle of vengeance at the end of the book kept you reading. Overall, a fun read for if you're bored on a lazy afternoon, but no masterpiece.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 1958, I read this book as a teen sometime, and had remembered it for a life time. Then trying to search and find it on Amazon, here, many many places I could not find it. = Because I did not kn ow the title or author. At about 64 I told my sister-in-law the plot and most of the story line. Then the day before the eclipse she gave this to me when I traveled from Michigan to Cascade, Idaho and stayed with them a couple days. WOW!! I am amazed that she found this. This book is how the conquering Ger 1958, I read this book as a teen sometime, and had remembered it for a life time. Then trying to search and find it on Amazon, here, many many places I could not find it. = Because I did not kn ow the title or author. At about 64 I told my sister-in-law the plot and most of the story line. Then the day before the eclipse she gave this to me when I traveled from Michigan to Cascade, Idaho and stayed with them a couple days. WOW!! I am amazed that she found this. This book is how the conquering Gerns took an earth ship killing most and taking some few thousand prisoners, then stranded them on a huge planet where it is almost impossible to survive. Because of the terrible animals that live there, prowlers (huge wolf like)-(unicorns which are more like a wild charging rhino)-(a cute squirrel like pet that has telepathy abilities). But it took 3 generations before these people could become the conquer of a trap they set for the Gerns themselves.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Joyless sci-fi hack job. Not that a story about a prison planet should be full of the joys of spring. Four thousand human 'Rejects' are captured by an enemy alien race and exiled on Ragnarok, a desolate planet of seasonal extremes with 1.5x the gravity of Earth, deadly predators and devastating deseases such as the Hell Fever. Within a few months there are less than four hundred survivors, leading characters are violently killed off, later on as the colony adapts to their inhospitable new home the Joyless sci-fi hack job. Not that a story about a prison planet should be full of the joys of spring. Four thousand human 'Rejects' are captured by an enemy alien race and exiled on Ragnarok, a desolate planet of seasonal extremes with 1.5x the gravity of Earth, deadly predators and devastating deseases such as the Hell Fever. Within a few months there are less than four hundred survivors, leading characters are violently killed off, later on as the colony adapts to their inhospitable new home they die less dramatically. As the decades go by they foster a dream of revenge. This is a grim novel, and not because of the situation the prisoners find themselves in. The writing was just as dreary as the surroundings. There was a certain grim satisfaction to be taken from the largely futile efforts of the community to establish itself. Later on they encountered a species of telepathic squirrels. Even they were boring.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beth Allen

    This odd, little novel was one of those recommended-for-you suggestions that Amazon randomly comes up with. I don’t know what it is about my purchasing habits that told Amazon I needed to read a 1950’s pulp sci-fi novel, but this time Amazon guessed well. I really enjoyed this light, interesting read. My favorite plot element was the inclusion of killer, hooved animals that had a single horn (when reared the height of these marauding “unicorns” was said to be 15 feet). These unicorns didn’t just This odd, little novel was one of those recommended-for-you suggestions that Amazon randomly comes up with. I don’t know what it is about my purchasing habits that told Amazon I needed to read a 1950’s pulp sci-fi novel, but this time Amazon guessed well. I really enjoyed this light, interesting read. My favorite plot element was the inclusion of killer, hooved animals that had a single horn (when reared the height of these marauding “unicorns” was said to be 15 feet). These unicorns didn’t just stampede a man; rather, they dismembered him and then giddily mashed the bits to pulp. Thus –> pulp fiction! Bwa ha ha ha! This novel, by Tom Godwin, was originally entitled The Survivors, but has been recently reprinted under the title Space Prison.

  12. 5 out of 5

    J. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    I was very pleased with this short book. It is part of a series, but can be read alone as I'm going to do because the rest of the series isn't available in audiobook format. First published in 1958. I can't even wrap my little mind around that. It seems crazy to think there were people writing sci-fi 60+ years ago that still holds up today. The narrator did an excellent job, though the audiobook was a chore to come by. I could only find it available in the UK market under the title Space Prison... I was very pleased with this short book. It is part of a series, but can be read alone as I'm going to do because the rest of the series isn't available in audiobook format. First published in 1958. I can't even wrap my little mind around that. It seems crazy to think there were people writing sci-fi 60+ years ago that still holds up today. The narrator did an excellent job, though the audiobook was a chore to come by. I could only find it available in the UK market under the title Space Prison...I think someone made the right choice with the name change. Update: Just finished a relisten and liked it just as much this go-around. I really wish the remainder of the series had made it to audio.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Godwin will always be remembered for his classic "The Cold Equations," one of the darkest stories ever published in the field. In fact, I was unable to think of anything else he'd written when I stumbled across this slim volume. It's the story of a planetary colonization ship that's taken over by evil aliens; some of the "useful" people are kept as prisoners, but the majority of the passengers are rejected and left on a very harsh and inhospitable world. The viewpoint characters change every few Godwin will always be remembered for his classic "The Cold Equations," one of the darkest stories ever published in the field. In fact, I was unable to think of anything else he'd written when I stumbled across this slim volume. It's the story of a planetary colonization ship that's taken over by evil aliens; some of the "useful" people are kept as prisoners, but the majority of the passengers are rejected and left on a very harsh and inhospitable world. The viewpoint characters change every few pages because of the high death rate... It's a very dark and bleak story, not in the same class as "The Cold Equations," but still pretty effective. I was tempted to re-watch ON THE BEACH to cheer me up when I finished it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    kent

    the book covers such a vast story (an alternate earth history, an alien race, a war, three planets, and 200 years) that a reader has a difficult time getting to know any of the characters except for some very violent unicorns

  15. 5 out of 5

    Philip Fracassi

    Interesting. Not because the story is any good, because it isn't. But the concept, which I'm sure was more of the point, of starting a world from scratch with whatever resources are available was kinda neat. Didn't necessarily work as novel, but an interesting allegory on hope. Interesting. Not because the story is any good, because it isn't. But the concept, which I'm sure was more of the point, of starting a world from scratch with whatever resources are available was kinda neat. Didn't necessarily work as novel, but an interesting allegory on hope.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Space Prison is a interesting and riveting story. I thought it was a very intriguing, gritty, and sad story.It begins with sadness and finally ends with hope. Its a story about the fall of pride, and a people that rise out of the ashes. Well done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erin Penn

    For a long while, after I got old enough to read big words for myself, my mother would pass books she thought were good to me - Robert Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars, for example. Eventually she approved me going into the collection directly and I worked my way through her shelves which included this gem from HER college years - first published in 1958. A book she loved enough to transport from one end of the country to another through at least four different moves. I loved it too. Massive worldbuil For a long while, after I got old enough to read big words for myself, my mother would pass books she thought were good to me - Robert Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars, for example. Eventually she approved me going into the collection directly and I worked my way through her shelves which included this gem from HER college years - first published in 1958. A book she loved enough to transport from one end of the country to another through at least four different moves. I loved it too. Massive worldbuilding, MacGyvering, action. I reread it again and again. Now a group of sci-fi classic lovers have uploaded the book for free viewing on Kindle. Note for the formatting - this is free, the page numbers are included in the text and there are a couple-few transcription issues. The overall result is fine though - especially free for a book which only had a 5,000 first run. Rereading the book in 2017, the worldbuilding still remains amazing. The ecology of Ragnarok from its climate to its animals is breathtaking. Originally titled "The Survivors", this book makes you feel the hell planet a group of colonists are dumped on by their enemies. The MacGyvering to survive and then thrive remains really cool - gems always have worth. Downside for 2017 - no female characters of note. The women and children are a background group - dying but essential to survival. Mr. Godwin does show them working along side the men, doing the same sacrifices and more; much more, there are no old child-bearing women. On a 1.5 gravity world where reproduction is as essential as exploration, the explorers will be limited to the men - and those are the ones Mr. Godwin follows. The women stay home and die in childbirth. Not the exciting part of the story for the 1950's readers. The author never demeans women or says they can't do what the men can do, but because they can do something the men cannot do they are not a part of the story. The story follows the colonists and their descendants for 200 years. The main lacking in this story is character attachment, you sympathize with the characters but don't empathize. Consider how many people die, not feeling each death personally is a plus. The initial two nights after the colonists arrival on the hell world makes George R.R. Martin's Red Wedding look sedate. Still a great worldbuilding story even after 60 years; definitely worth the space on your kindle if you like classic sci-fi. ADDITIONAL NOTE: Eric Flint, in conjunction with Baen Books, has collected many of Tom Godwin's works into "The Cold Equations" (published 2003), including The Survivors/Space Prison and his famous short story "The Cold Equations". While not free, like this particular "Kindle Edition", it's available in paperback so you can have it for your shelves. ... Side amusement, the cover is for "Space Prison" with a person standing holding a crossbow and unicorn goggles (should be black), with a mocker on the shoulder and two prowlers - but, typical of early sci-fi, the person is a scantily garbed woman.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amazingbollweevil

    This isn't a terrible story, it's just a really bad story. The first thing that really bothers me is the huge plot holes. Four thousand humans are captured by the enemy and left on a harsh planet with only one personal bag each, and some supplies. Somehow, the humans are equipped with lots of weaponry. Why didn't the enemy disarm them? They also have hatchets and lots of raw materials to build shelters. No explanation is given as to how they obtained this material. The numbers of humans dwindle This isn't a terrible story, it's just a really bad story. The first thing that really bothers me is the huge plot holes. Four thousand humans are captured by the enemy and left on a harsh planet with only one personal bag each, and some supplies. Somehow, the humans are equipped with lots of weaponry. Why didn't the enemy disarm them? They also have hatchets and lots of raw materials to build shelters. No explanation is given as to how they obtained this material. The numbers of humans dwindle to less than 100 in only a few generations yet manage to maintain even obscure knowledge like the names of lessor deities of the ancient Greeks. Yes, the original humans did write down their knowledge, but how did they manage to write all that when they were struggling for survival? By the third generation they're also supposed to have passed along enough knowledge to smelt metal and craft a hyperspace communicator. Sheesh. The worst part of this book is the lack of focus. We start by learning about the de facto leader of the humans and how he deals with an usurper. Interesting. Then that part is over and we follow a character from a new generation but we never get very close to him. Then that part is over and we follow someone else equally forgettable. Then I think we follow someone else but by then I had lost interest. If you want a REALLY good story about prisoners being dumped on a planet, read James White's "The Escape Orbit" ("Open Prison" in the UK). That one is realistic and damn exciting!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alton Motobu

    Tremendous story about Earthlings exiled on hostile planet by evil Gerns. They must battle extreme heat and cold, diseases, and native animals - unicorns that cannot be tamed, intelligent werewolves - but they live for the day they can exact revenge on the Gerns. Out of the original 4000 Earthlings, less than 100 survive but they are the fittest and strongest and evolve over the next 200 years into a race of supermen. They lure the Gerns back and defeat them. This is sort of like a sequel to the Tremendous story about Earthlings exiled on hostile planet by evil Gerns. They must battle extreme heat and cold, diseases, and native animals - unicorns that cannot be tamed, intelligent werewolves - but they live for the day they can exact revenge on the Gerns. Out of the original 4000 Earthlings, less than 100 survive but they are the fittest and strongest and evolve over the next 200 years into a race of supermen. They lure the Gerns back and defeat them. This is sort of like a sequel to the Star Trek episode about Khan, but much better than the movie, The Wrath of Khan. Only 150 pages, but should have been a 500-page epic.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    "The Survivors" is a gripping read. The disappointment comes in that the rest of the universe simply stands still in the two centuries during which the marooned humans are first whittled down to a handful by Ragnarok's harsh conditions, then adapt & multiply as a new breed, ready & willing to take on their alien oppressors. A warship in A.D. 1820 is the same as a warship in the A.D. 2020? A warship in 1620 was the same as a warship in 1820? Yet the universe off-world waits patiently, not making "The Survivors" is a gripping read. The disappointment comes in that the rest of the universe simply stands still in the two centuries during which the marooned humans are first whittled down to a handful by Ragnarok's harsh conditions, then adapt & multiply as a new breed, ready & willing to take on their alien oppressors. A warship in A.D. 1820 is the same as a warship in the A.D. 2020? A warship in 1620 was the same as a warship in 1820? Yet the universe off-world waits patiently, not making much progress but for the slightest incremental improvement, while the Ragnarok men utterly reinvent themselves as unbeatable warriors. That's a cheap conceit & thus ultimately unsatisfying.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert D

    In 1958 this may have been a unique idea but by 2020 it was predictable and anticlimactic. The premise has aliens containing earth from reaching for the stars. When an attempt to break the siege gets caught the aliens dump the humans on a planet that is deemed unsurvivable. Despite this the survivors struggle through gravity that is 1.5 of earth normal, ravaging diseases, no resources, but with the thought of vengeance to keep them going. The book takes place over 200 years and multiple generati In 1958 this may have been a unique idea but by 2020 it was predictable and anticlimactic. The premise has aliens containing earth from reaching for the stars. When an attempt to break the siege gets caught the aliens dump the humans on a planet that is deemed unsurvivable. Despite this the survivors struggle through gravity that is 1.5 of earth normal, ravaging diseases, no resources, but with the thought of vengeance to keep them going. The book takes place over 200 years and multiple generations. Thus there is a revolving line of 'main' characters. Also being only 158 pages long, there is little investment in each generation as it struggles to overcome a new challenge.

  22. 4 out of 5

    S

    Survival and change This book is an interesting adaptation of survival of the fittest. Being deposited on a different world and having to adapt or die has made the humans a much greater adversary for the Gern. What was originally meant to be subjugation or death has turned into a victory for those who could adapt and did adapt. The human spirit lives on in this strange new universe. An interesting read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richp

    This is an excellent parody of imperial 1950s space opera. It was not written as a parody, so its 5 stars as a parody average with 1 star as a serious novel to get 3 stars. I did enjoy it a lot, largely due to the nostalgia factor: this was one of the first dozen SF novels I read, about 50 years ago.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Damon-lee

    Brilliant story and my first foray into the Tom Godwin books. The story pulls you into the massive world that could be and I would love to hear more about it and the universe that is teased at. Sadly Tom Godwin isn't with us and the only sequel to this book is apparently not worth it, but it won't stop you from thinking of what it could have been and what if it happened. Brilliant story and my first foray into the Tom Godwin books. The story pulls you into the massive world that could be and I would love to hear more about it and the universe that is teased at. Sadly Tom Godwin isn't with us and the only sequel to this book is apparently not worth it, but it won't stop you from thinking of what it could have been and what if it happened.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Larry Peninger

    For it's time The book with all of its campy pulp science fiction it end beautifully and poetically "When a race has been condemned to die by another race and it fights and struggles and manages somehow to survive, it learns a lesson. It learns it must never again let the other race be in position to destroy it. I loved it! For it's time The book with all of its campy pulp science fiction it end beautifully and poetically "When a race has been condemned to die by another race and it fights and struggles and manages somehow to survive, it learns a lesson. It learns it must never again let the other race be in position to destroy it. I loved it!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A mildly entertaining exercise in establishing humans on a hostile world. You can stop after the first generation on Ragnarok dies. After that, there is really nothing interesting that happens. Just repeat ad nauseum. The geology of the planet is interested, but the flora and fauna is uninspired just 'reskinned' Earth animals and plants. A mildly entertaining exercise in establishing humans on a hostile world. You can stop after the first generation on Ragnarok dies. After that, there is really nothing interesting that happens. Just repeat ad nauseum. The geology of the planet is interested, but the flora and fauna is uninspired just 'reskinned' Earth animals and plants.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas

    Ohhhhh.... so it's a metaphorical "space prison." Gotcha. Considering that the plot revolves around a society of castoffs who were left behind on a barren planet after their world was taken over and, the original title, "Survivors," makes a whole lot more sense. Whatever you want to call us, this was a satisfying, pulpy read. I liked it enough to check out the sequel. Ohhhhh.... so it's a metaphorical "space prison." Gotcha. Considering that the plot revolves around a society of castoffs who were left behind on a barren planet after their world was taken over and, the original title, "Survivors," makes a whole lot more sense. Whatever you want to call us, this was a satisfying, pulpy read. I liked it enough to check out the sequel.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    A great story that could have been greater. The book could actually have been stretched into 3 separate books. A trilogy of books describing the prisoners arriving, surviving, and then the sweet revenge. Anyway a good read that includes heroes, villains, and innocents. Also: Written in the 1950's the story still seems modern and fresh. A great story that could have been greater. The book could actually have been stretched into 3 separate books. A trilogy of books describing the prisoners arriving, surviving, and then the sweet revenge. Anyway a good read that includes heroes, villains, and innocents. Also: Written in the 1950's the story still seems modern and fresh.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen Condon

    Great premise, great read If you are looking for a good one book read, this is it. Very entertaining, the trials faced and conquered keep you wanting more. Makes the reader realize struggle is what truly shapes mankind, and can make us stronger as a group when we share a goal.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deeman

    Dang good book. Got this one free cuz I really like this story line. What those folks went thu remains me of the old civil war. Good Reading. I want more so should we all. Thanks

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