(Found) Space Generation ship story "The Raft"


May 31, 2020
Another book from my teen years. I want again. Late 1980-mid 90s. I wanted to say the book was called "The Raft" but the search results reveal something else from what I recall.

A family on a long, slow haul generation ship.

Something goes wrong, or.. weird. They are stuck. Have nothing but time now.

Father gets deeply knowledgeable and nears omniscience, mom sacrificed finger knucklebones to scatter hexagram bones in mystic/magic explorations. They no longer talk to each other, and may be at odds and counter interests.

Both have long grown beyond the understanding of the children, whom the story follows. They are learning things about the reality and the ship and the... otherness going on, on board this lost ship. The thunderous and paranormal actions of the parents rock the ship and reality, time and space- in many many ways.

And just.. wow. It was a real mind bender. I wonder if "The Raft" is really the book Im talking about- I do remember I never actually finished the book. But the beginning parts I read really had me hooked, and still haunt my memories.


Active Member
Jul 22, 2019
For every word you read, i am inside of your head
So after making a quick search on bookfinder with the title name and limited to have been made no much over than 2000, these are the results that I find as a result:

There are a few things that are specifically titled "The Raft" and there are 14 of them, lol.
Let's see... there is:

"The Raft" from Robert Trumbull (Unlikely considering it's a story about sailors and i don't think the summary involved anything mystical.
"The Raft" from Jim LaMarche
"Raft" from Stephen Baxter (Might be this, dunno but it is a hard science fiction novel)
"The Raft" from Kurt Schmeltzer
"The Raft" from Kathy FAGAN
"The Raft" from Alison Morgan
"The Raft; Or the Widow's Two Sons" from John Todd
"The Raft" from Donald Trumbull
"The Raft" from Captain Devere Baker
"The Raft" from David King
"The Raft" from Stephen King
"The Raft (Rad Sergeant)" from Jean Westcott
"The Raft" from Trumbull
"The Raft" from Rosalind Wade

Those are lots of Rafts, haha!
Though if you can remember the exact date from when you read it and if you are sure that the name was exactly "The Raft". Then you'll... Find it eventually I suppose, I hope this helped! :)


May 31, 2020
I went through all those references. no winners.

Is there some sort of reverse image google search, where i can just describe the cover to get search results? (Its a space scene, with a ship pointing to a point in the distance- broken, pieces of hull in fragments to the side)

Im not certain there was mysticism per se in the book... more that the mother and father were understanding more and more of how the universe worked, and started to manipulate it (more or less for something to do while stranded and effectively immortal- one of the first things they figured out)

Thinking more on it, I recall the ship was broke down, with systems failing, and the children having to "go into cryo" for centuries at a time while the parents tried to fix it to bring them back. They reawaken for us to witness with them how things changed and got weirder, as the parents "discovered more" and the eons have passed.

(It was hauntingly interesting)


May 31, 2020

Update on this nagging memory, doing a google search after remembering the "mother-figure" started forecasting the future with her own toe bones doing I-Ching hexagram mysticisms- thing, that given all the free time, was finally "mastered". That really narrowed it down:

Starburst, by Frederik Pohl.

Seeing the cover art brought it all back, for certain this was the one.

But again, it seems the 35+ years have tainted the memory a bit. no Raft in the title afterall.


Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2005
Thank you for coming back to post your own answer. I'm sure that future searchers will appreciate it.


Well-Honed Member
Apr 30, 2006
Well, it is only half found.

*I* didn't know that "The Gold at the Starbow's End" by Frederik Pohl was made into that novel.

The question was a very garbled description, but throwing the I Ching with toe bones (one toe from each crew member, actually) is something one never forgets.

Following experiments quoted in the story about kids using two plywood boards to go across a room, then one in which kids used only one plywood board to get across a room, they asked, Why didn't any of the children with two boards use only one board? If people are given less, do they do more? --- and sent a hand-picked elite team of young couples to a nonexistent planet.

The team did indeed succeed, and return to an Earth dying from global warming and flooding.

I bought and keep a boat-anchor-heavy World Treasury of Science Fiction just to have this story.