There are also the four "Cities in Flight" novels by James Blish -- I remember reading these as a young lad, but I can;t really recall much about them...
...I seem to recall picking the firs tone up again about 10 years ago, but finding it not-so-interesting... but maybe I'm mistaken...
Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) doesn't count if you're talking about the Enterprise (A Generation Ship is slower than light)...
... but are you saying that there was an episode with a Generation Ship in it?...
Now you mention it I vaguely seem to remember something ... but not much ... can you remember the name of the episode?
Yes -- that's right -- it was the latest Dr Who -- the ship was a city riding on the back of a "Space Whale"...
...I was a bit surprised by this episode because the Dr almost lobotomized the Space Whale ... that's not something the old Dr(s) would have done (mutter mutter, groan moan)
One great series by John Varley that I read recently is Red Thunder (2nd and 3rd books are Red Lightening and Rolling Thunder), which involves a hollowed out asteroid turned into a Generation Ship. There's a lot of great stuff in this series.
Another that comes to mind is the Ringworld series (Larry Niven). The Ringworld itself could be considered a Generation Ship, but the Puppeteers also added drives to planets, and used them to escape the collapsing center of the galaxy! Great books.
There was a late 70's Canadian TV series called 'Starlost' featuring Keir Dullea, from '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Personally, I found that it dragged but the show did get a loyal following. Maybe I'll feel differently about it now, no longer being 10 years old ... :)
Starlost was significant in that its generation ship, which featured large dome-shaped botanical pods, is probably the most recycled image in TV and films!
Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee wrote three sequels to Rendezvous with Rama - Rama II, The Garden of Rama, and Rama Revealed. These span 3 (or was it 4?) generations of the progeny of the central character, one of a small group who became trapped while exploring the 2nd Rama.
You wouldn't know it from the title but Flood by Stephen Baxter has some great material about a long-range, long-duration spaceflight and there are kids born on the ship, so I think it qualifies as a generation ship story. The interesting twist is that, although massive planning goes into training and selecting a perfect crew, things don't quite go to plan and the "society" that develops is pretty scary but believable.
I hadn't heard of this -- I just checked and it seems that the action in "Flood" all takes place on Earth -- it's in the sequel "Arc" where the Generation Ship comes into play...
...I've read some of Stephen Baxter's stuff and found it a bit wearing ... on the other hand I did quite like his book "Evolution" (one day I hope to finish it :-)
Arrhhhhgggg -- I can't believe I neglected to mention Red Dwarf -- of course it was never intended to be a Generation Ship -- but it ended to that the Cat's entire race evolved there, so it definitely has to count...
Do you remember the "Gazpacho Soup" episode? Laugh? I almost bought a round of beers! :-)
Gee, guys... "The Book of the Long Sun", Wolfe. Hasn't anyone mentioned that in this thread? Discussing "best" in this context is pointless, that's like "best" beer. And the authors mentioned here aren't small beer, either. I like the Wolfe book. But there are so many gen ship novels... I am remembering them as I look over the thread. Lots of fun. Curiously enough, one significant author, Jack Vance, didn't go in for gen ships, although he did write an outline for such a story. (If you don't know anything about Jack Vance, you have missed the ship, partner...)
Max, FYI, awhile back ( like about late 2006 ) the folks over at CGSociety ( www.cgsociety.org ) based one of their regular CG Challenge competitions on "EON".
Some of the amazing images ( in traditional illustration, 3D-rendered, and animation format ) can still be seen at http://features.cgsociety.org/challenge/eon/.
Speaking of the Doctor Who Starship UK/Spacewhale episode ( ...spacewhale?... not an enormous mutant stargoat?... like that one rumored to have been threatening all those ad-men, insurance salesmen, hairdressers and telephone sanitizers, before they left doomed planet Golgafrincham in their "B-Ark"?... ) apparently David Yates, of HARRY POTTER film-directing fame, is now getting set to direct a big screen adaptation for the BBC! Not based on the series, though... another entirely new reboot.
Still, that might be one I think I might actually be willing to hazard going to a theater for!
Oops! Sorry... mixed references to two sci-fi series' without saying which I was talking about at the end.
Sadly, it's probably not likely that anyone will attempt another movie adaptation based on Douglas Adams' works for a long while ( again ). "Doctor Who", though, is another story.
I had first seen the story in an "AWN Flash" newsletter a few days ago. In the past couple of days, a small flurry of stories have appeared online ( just google "David Yates" ) including an interesting io9 article on why this might be the best thing to happen to "Doctor Who".
Um, I wish Yates luck, mostly for my own sake, but a prior Dr. Who movie was a tanker. Maybe we'll do better this time. FWIW, I miss Colin Baker, he was my sort of Doctor. No wishy washy feel good: kill the bad guys if needed. ;-)
I remember it also -- it was a brilliant film -- but it wasn't a Generation Ship story -- it only had a small crew and it had only been on its mission (blowing up unstable planets or stars or whatever)that might threaten ongoing human colonization...
...still and all it was a great film...
How about "The dark beyond the stars"? Not only did it confront the decay of the ship, but it had a unique plot wherein the protagonist "Sparrow" and "The Captain" were given long life and were each "programmed" with a different function. One to lead the ship out, and one to lead it home. The possibility that there may be no other life out there, yet the Captain is driven to continue the journey by the aforementioned programming, drives a great plot that questions the meaning of life, both human and alien. A great read. P.S. Just finished "Time for the stars" yesterday (again)
I'd never heard of "The dark beyond the stars" but I just went to Amazon and the reviews are great so I added it to my Wish List
Re "Time for the Stars" -- I also re-read Heinlein's "younger" books periodically ... they are just such great reads...
(Late to the discussion)
My favorite Generation Ship novel is "Mayflies" by Kevin O'Donnell.
It's an older book (from the 50s)
The protagonist in this book is a scientist whose body is destroyed in an accident, and whose brain is installed as the central computer of a generation ship.
Thus, the story is told from the point of view of the ship's central computer who must maintain the ship and its systems while watching generations of its passengers live & die.
I just looked this up on Amazon -- the folks who like it really like it -- but it doesn't have overwhelming support -- like the comment
"To say that this is 'slow' is like calling Faulkner 'wordy'." (grin)
So I'm not sure whether to add this one to my wish list or not...
This was first "generation ship" nov-l I read back in mid 1950's: The Star Seekers by Lesser, Milton
It is a bit pricey if you want a used copy from amazon.com or abebooks.com..but maybe Inter-library loan?
The Star Seekers wasn't bad, sort of a "juvenile novel".
Try this link and the links embedded within to Amazon comments.
I enjoyed the BBC Radio series Earthsearch by Ken Follet and have passed it on to grateful friends.
Several FTL generation ships are sent to find a new homeworld for humanity, but problems arise due to egotistical AI control systems and FTL time distortion.
Thanks for the interesting post!