List of Generation Ship Novels and Short Stories

I recently checked out a copy of Simone Caroti’s scholarly The Generation Starship In Science Fiction: A Critical History, 1934-2001 (2011) (amazon link) from my library — its appendix contains a wonderful list of generation starship novels and short stories (and the very first non-fiction attestations of this fascinating sci-fi concept).

I highly recommend the book for all aficionados of this particular sci-fi subgenre.  Be warned, as a certain reviewer points out on amazon, it is a work of serious scholarship not a lighthearted romp projecting future developments.  It is not a complete list so I’ve gone ahead and added a few (for example, White’s The Watch Below) and starred them (*).  I’ve also included his chronological divisions.  I’ve supplied links for the few I’ve reviewed.

If you know of any that I haven’t included or were skipped in Caroti’s study let me know.

I have so many more to read!  And plan to make a concerted effort to procure them….

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Genesis (1918-1929)

1) Konstantine Tsiolkovsky. “Buduschchee Zemli i Chelovechestvo” (“Earth’s Future and Manking”). Kaluga, (Russia: Izd. Avtora, 1928). (non-fiction)

2) J. D. Bernal. The World, the Flesh and the Devil (London: Kegan Paul, 1929). (non-fiction/philosophy)

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The Gernsback Age (1934-1940)

Laurence Manning. “The Living Galaxy.” Wonder Stories, (September 1934)

Don Wilcox. “The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years.” Amazing Stories, (October 1940)

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Astounding Science Fiction and the Golden Age of SF (1941-1957)

Robert A. Heinlein. “Universe.” Astounding Science Fiction, (May 1941.) (rereleased in 1963 novel form with “Common Sense” as Orphans of the Sky)

——-”Common Sense.” Astounding Science Fiction, (October 1941)

Arthur C. Clarke. “Rescue Party.” Astounding Science Fiction, (October 1946)

Arthur Sellings. “A Start in Life.” Galaxy Science Fiction, (September 1954)

Leslie R. Shepherd. “Interstellar Flight.” Science-Fiction Plus, (April 1953)

Clifford D. Simak. “Spacebred Generations.” Science-Fiction Plus, (April 1953)

Milton Lesser. The Star Seekers.  (Philadelphia, Pa: John C. Winston Co., 1953)

Frank M. Robinson. “The Oceans Are Wide.” Science Stories, (April 1954)

*James Blish. Cities in Flight series (excluding They Shall Have Stars, 1956).  Earthman Come Home, (Putnam, 1955), The Triumph of Time, (Putnam, 1958), A Life for the Stars, (Putnam, 1962).

E. C. Tubb. The Space-Born.  In The Man Who Japed/The Space-Born. (New York: Ace, 1956)

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From the New Wave to the Edge of Cyberpunk (1957-1979)

John Brunner. “Lungfish.” Science Fantasy, (December 1957)

Chad Oliver. “The Wind Blows Free.” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, (July 1957)

Brian W. Aldiss. Non-Stop. (London: Faber and Faber, 1958)

Judith Merril. “Wish upon a Star.” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, (December 1958)

Edmund Cooper. Seed of Light. (New York: Ballantine, 1959)

J. T. McIntosh.  200 Years to Christmas. Science Fantasy 12, no. 35 (June 1959)

David Rome. “Bliss.”  Science Adventures, (January 1962)

J. G. Ballard. “Thirteen to Centaurus.” Amazing Stories, (April 1962)

A. E. Van Vogt. Rogue Ship. (New York: Doubleday, 1965). First published ‘Centarus II.’ Astounding Science-Fiction (1947), ‘Rogue Ship.’  Super Science Stories (1950), ‘The Expendables.’ Worlds of Science Fiction (1963)

Samuel R. Delany. The Ballad of Beta-2. In Alpha Yes, Terra No!/The Ballard of Beta-2, (New York: Ace, 1965)

*James White. The Watch Below, (Whiting & Wheaton, 1966)

Poul Anderson. Tau Zero. (New York: Doubleday, 1970).  Fixup “To Outlive Eternity.” (Galaxy Magazine, June/August 1967)

James White. All Judgement Fled. in If, (December 1967-Febuary 1968)

Alexei Panshin. Rite of Passage. (New York: Ace, 1968)

Fritz Leiber. “Ship of Shadows.” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, (July 1969).

Harry Harrison. Captive Universe. (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969)

Roger Dixon. Noah II. (New York: Ace, 1970)

Ben Bova. Exiled from Earth. in Galaxy Magazine, (January/Febuary 1971)

——- Flight of Exiles. (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972)

——- End of Exile. (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1975)

Arthur C. Clarke. Rendezvous with Rama. (London: Gollancz, 1973)

Harlan Ellison and Edward Bryant. Phoenix Without Ashes.  (New York: Fawcett Gold medal, 1975)

James M. Ward. Metamorphosis Alpha. (Lake Geneva: TSR, 1976) (game)

Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Mayflies. (New York: Berkley, 1979)

George Zebrowski. Macrolife. (New York: Harper & Row, 1979)

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The Information Revolution and Beyond (1980-2010)

Damien Broderick.  The Dreaming Dragons, (Melbourne: Nostrilia Press, 1980)

Thomas Hubschman.  Space Ark. (New York: Tower Books, 1981)

*Pamela Sargent. Earthseed, (Harper & Row, 1983).

Robert J. Sawyer. Golden Fleece. (New York: Warner Books, 1990)

Frank M. Robinson. The Dark Beyond the Stars. (New York: Tor, 1991)

Gene Wolfe. Nightside the Long Sun. (New York: Tor, 1993)

——- Lake of the Long Sun. (New York: Tor, 1994)

——- Caldé of the Long Sun. (New York: Tor, 1994)

——- Exodus from the Long Sun. (New York: Tor, 1996)

*Michael Bishop. “Cri de Coeur.” Asimov’s Science Fiction, (September 1994)

Simon Hawke.  The Whims of Creation (Aspect / Warner Books, 1995)

Bruce Sterling. “Taklamakan.” Asimov’s Science Fiction, (October/November 1998)

Rob Grant, Colony. (London: Viking UK, 2000)

*Adam Roberts, Salt. (Gollancz, 2000)

*Susan R. Matthews, Colony Fleet. (Eos, 2000).

Richard Paul Russo. Ship of Fouls. (New York: Ace, 2001)

Alastair Reynolds. Chasm City. (London: Gollancz/Orion, 2001)

John Clute. Appleseed. (London: Orbit, 2001)

Ursula K. Le Guin. “Paradises Lost.” in The Birthday of the Wold and Other Stories (New York: Harper Collins, 2002)

Y. Kondo, F. C. Bruhweiler, K. Moore, C. Sheffield (Eds.) Interstellar Travel and Multi-Generation Space Ships. (Burlington, Ont.: apogee, 2003) (non-fiction)

Stephen Baxter. Mayflower II. (Hornsea, UK: PS Publishings, 2004)

Ken MacLeod. Learning the World. (London: Orbit, 2005)

Joe Haldeman. Old Twentieth. (New York: Ace, 2005)

Stephen Baxter. Flood. (London: Gollancz, 2008)

——- Ark. (London: Gollancz, 2009)

Elizabeth Bear. Dust. (New York: Bantam Spectra, 2008)

——- Chill. (New York: Spectra/Ballantine Books, 2010)

*Maria V. Snyder, Inside Out (Harlequin, 2011)

*Maria V. Snyder, Outside In (Harlequin, 2012)

*Michael Bishop. “Twenty Lights to ‘The Land of Snow'” in Going Intersellar (Baen Books, 2012)

40 thoughts on “List of Generation Ship Novels and Short Stories”

  1. Mr. Boaz — Great list! Two comments —

    Simak’s “Spacebred Generations” might be better known as “Target Generation” (under that title in his collection *Strangers in the Universe*). At least, I assume it’s the same story.

    There’s also a recent book by Greg Bear to add, *Hull Zero Three*.

    Rick Ellrod

    1. I think it’s a different story than Target Generation published in Science-Fiction Plus, for their August 1953 issues….

      Is Target Generation another one of his shorts with a generation ship?

      Thanks for the comment!

    2. Enjoyed your site, Joachim – thanks!

      Just read Greg Bear’s Hull Zero Three after seeing it listed here (after Rick’s recommendation?). It’s a great story, but it’s not a generation starship story – there are no generations as all the ‘passengers’ are either frozen for the duration of the journey and/or biofactured (it’s not entirely clear). This is probably why it wasn’t listed by Caroti (an excellent read, by the way), although he listed another 2010 story, so he was likely aware of it – it doesn’t fit his definition.

  2. Hi Joachim,

    Just realised you’ve got an earlier version of this site at

    http://sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/updates-new-resource-useful-list-of-generation-ship-novels-and-short-stories/

    with comments through 2012. Is there are reason for splitting the site?

    I found a story by Ken Liu recently, called ‘Mono no aware’, originally published in 2012 in ‘The Future is Japanese’, edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington, and reprinted in Lightspeed magazine, June 2013.

    The story is set on a generation ship a few years after launch, so although it’s not clear how far they’ll get, it fits the Caroti criteria.

    But is Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero really a generation starship story? There are no generations, although one baby is born on board before they find a planet.

    1. Yes, the old one you found is simply the update post I made to alert people that I created a more official “page”… I think I made a link to the page in that update….

      As for the list itself, most of it is from the scholarly work I cited. So, I’m using Caroti’s definition and he included Tau Zero. Anderson has another short story — Epilogue — with a exploratory seeding ship sent out from Earth as a war approaches that sort of implies that there are generations onboard but never makes it clear…. Torn whether I should add that one or not as well.

      But yes, I’ve heard of the Ken Liu story and plan on adding it but I’m in Paris doing research for a month + and haven’t updated/posted much as of late.

  3. OMG thank you, thank you, thank you for this list!! I have been looking for a book that I had read years ago and couldn’t remember the title, any character names, or the author (pretty much screwed) and now, thanks to you I have found it!! I thought it was called Earthsong, but really it was Earthseed. Seriously on Cloud 9 right now…

    1. Ditto! I’ve been looking for the title of Earthseed for, literally, 20 years. I read it in middle school and remembered the story–particularly the character of Ship–for years and years, but couldn’t remember the title or any of the other character names. This list is a sanity saver. I LOVED this book, but it belonged to the school library and I’ve never been able to track it down–until now. So awesome! And it’s a trilogy! I had no idea. Can’t wait to re-read this and now the rest of the series. Thank you times a million!

  4. Just a reply to Sin’s post of 31 October: I hadn’t seen Pandorum, but have now checked it out. Like HZT, it’s not a generation starship story – there are no onboard generations, just frozen passengers – but it was an enjoyable couple of hours!

  5. Thank you for this post! A Goodreads user pointed me to it, and I found a novel that I read as a teen and loved. Can’t wait to read that again. Would not have found it without your list :)

  6. Great list but it’s missing a book. I’m looking for a book that I read awhile ago. A generation ship in orbit around earth leaves as war breaks out on earth. It travels to another system where rather than colonizing a planet it proliferates itself through building more ship/worlds. It’s the only book I have come across that actually abandons planets as places to live and builds a true space based civilization. Anyone know the name of the book?

    1. Starlost is notoriously awful. There’s entire pastiche book of the horrors of making the show written by Ben Bova.

      “Bova served as the science advisor for the failed television series The Starlost,[7] leaving in disgust after the airing of the first episode (1973). His novel The Starcrossed, loosely based on his experiences, featured a thinly veiled characterization of his friend and colleague Harlan Ellison. Bova dedicated the novel to “Cordwainer Bird”, the pen name Harlan Ellison uses when he does not want to be associated with a television or film project.”

    1. Isn’t that more YA/Romance? I’m tentative about putting it on this list… I know, perhaps it’s a bias I have against Harlequin press (which is the novel’s publisher).

      1. I think Harlequin published these two particular books more because they have an established relationship with the author (who normally writes excellent YA/romantic fantasy). Still doesn’t change the fact that these two books are most definitely science fiction, good reads, and belong on this list.

  7. Hi, I noticed you have Heinlein’s ‘Common Sense’ and Clarke’s ‘Rescue Party’ published in Astounding Oct ’41. Rescue Party was published in 1946 to the best of my checking. (Caroti also shows 1946)

  8. Generation ships are really just space colonies used as ships. Therefore I would suggest “Only Superhuman” by Christopher L. Bennett might be interesting to those interested in generation ships. I think the whole ships to colonize planets to be a obsolete concept once we inhabit space there will be little interest in returning to a planet.

  9. John Thornton has a ten book series, “The Colony Ship Eschaton” and another series in the works, “The Colony Ship Vanguard” which has 5 books so far. They are all set on colony ships and have really interesting story lines and unusual features. Published in 2013 and 2014.

  10. Hey guys, I am looking for the name of this generation ship novel. It goes something like this: There is this ship that is sent out from Earth to search for extraterrestrial life, and is captained by this guy who basically lives forever. The main character is also someone who has a long life, but every so often they knock out his memory so he doesn’t know who he really is. The main character eventually kills the captain and leads the ship back to earth.

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