The Survivors (Godwin novel)
Dust-jacket from the first edition
|Cover artist||Wallace Wood|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Followed by||The Space Barbarians|
The Survivors is a science fiction novel by author Tom Godwin. It was published in 1958 by Gnome Press in an edition of 5,000 copies, of which 1,084 were never bound. The novel was published in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960 under the title Space Prison. The novel is an expansion of Godwin's story "Too Soon to Die" which first appeared in the magazine Venture.
A ship heading from Earth to Athena, a planet 500 light years away, is suddenly attacked by the Gerns, an alien empire in its expansion phase. People aboard are divided by the invaders into Acceptables and Rejects. The Acceptables would become slave labor for the Gerns on Athena, and the Rejects are forced ashore on the nearest 'Earth-like' planet, called Ragnarok. The Gerns say they will return for the Rejects, but the Rejects quickly realise that that isn't going to happen.
Ragnarok is not so 'Earth-like.' Its gravity is 1.5 times that of Earth, it is populated by deadly, aggressive creatures and it contains little in the way of usable metal ores. This, combined with a terrible deadly fever that kills in hours, more than decimates the population.
The novels follows the stranded humans through several generations as they try to survive there, and their unswerving goal to repay the Gerns for their cruelty.
Comic book writer Warren Ellis counts the novel as one of his early favorites, writing, "I must have read that book twenty times. It just rips along (in many senses of the word “rips”), as shamelessly gleeful as a short genre book should be."
There is a sequel from 1964 called The Space Barbarians.
- Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 307.
- Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 188. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.
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