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The Songs of Distant Earth Mass Market Paperback – April 12, 1987


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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Clarke's simple, musical style never falters in this novel, which is a sobering yet far from bleak commentary on humanity's longing for the stars. Highly recommended' Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Thalassa was a paradise above the earth. Its beauty and vast resources seduce its inhabitants into a feeling of perfection. But then the Magellan arrives, carrying with it one million refugees from the last mad days of earth. Paradise looks indeed lost....
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (April 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345322401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345322401
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Eric San Juan VINE VOICE on May 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Songs of Distant Earth" is an engaging story centered around one of Arthur C. Clarke's deceptively simply plot hooks: Prior to the destruction of the Earth in a nova 1,500 years from now, "seedships" were sent to the stars so humanity could live on. An early seedship birthed a small, Eden-like civilization on a planet called Thalassa.
Now, hundreds of years after this society achieved near perfection, another seedship has arrived. And it is carrying people who have come directly from the now destroyed Earth.
Like most of Clarke's work, "The Songs of Distant Earth" is a story driven by ideas. Ideas about how the future of humanity will turn out. Ideas about how we will eventually solve the problems of today. And ideas about how we will finally reach the stars, and what we'll do when we get there.
Unlike much of his later work, "Songs" holds up well. This is not only the best of his late-period writing, but falls in with the very best novels he has written no matter the era. The pacing is quick, with a new revelation or theory around every corner, luring the reader deeper into the story with short, pithy chapters, each revealing a small (but fascinating) part of an intricate whole.
Most of the classic Clarke hallmarks are here, including the handful of themes that grew to dominate his later works. The space elevator, the possibly intelligent yet wholly alien lifeform, the theories on how humans will cross the gulf between the stars, and the diatribes against religion.
The cast of characters is not huge, but he rotates the viewpoint from chapter to chapter between about half-a-dozen of the people. The variety is good, as subtlety in painting his characters has never been a Clarke strong suit.
As mentioned, "Songs" is driven by ideas.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a book that you will likely not forget reading. Clarke's imagination here is staggering.
The novel takes place several thousand years from now. Earth has been destroyed by an unstable sun. Mankind foresaw the nova of Earth's sun for about two thousand years, and mounted an effort to colonize nearby stars in order to save the species. This was done in the nick of time.
The story takes place on planet Thalassa--a world largely of oceans with a single pair of islands perhaps the size of Taiwan. The Thalassans, originally colonists from Earth, have been alone for over a thousand years. Now they are visited by the last starship from Earth, which stops there en route to a different planet intended for colonization.
The story deals with the clash of cultures, but the best part are the flashbacks to Earth, and Clarke's highly intelligent and plausible extrapolations as regards science, politics, and societal development. Clarke's prose is outstanding as well, which is not all that common in science fiction. This is, quite simply, a wonderful story which will strike a chord in most readers.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Gerald J. Nora on August 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Arthur C. Clarke is in fine form with this book about humanity after the death of Earth, burnt up by the Sun. Many colonies were started on other planets, and Thalassa was one of the later ones sent out before the Sun blew up. Thalassa is a quiet utopia, with the citizenry leading uneventful lives on their ocean world. This peace is shaken when the starship Magellan comes into their system, containing thousands of humans who were the last to leave the Solar System before the Sun blew up. Unlike the Thalassans, who grew up untroubled by the tensions and violence of Earth, the Magellan crew has fresh memories of the last violent days of Earth and still grieve for their home and loved ones; they remember religion, which was supressed on Thalassa to avoid religious strife; they remember tragedy. Clarke's book is a sensitive telling of what happens when the Thalassans are exposed to the last human survivors of Earth, and how those survivors are touched by the tranquillity of Thalassa. Clarke shows you love, remembrance, and tragedy infused with Clarke's sense of wonder.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bart Leahy on March 13, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Arthur C. Clarke wrote his first draft of The Songs of Distant Earth back in the 1950s, and kept refining his story until setting down to write this novel in 1987. While I have a fondness for 2010: Odyssey Two and The Fountains of Paradise, this is still one of my favorite Clarke stories.
The opening chapters of The Songs of Distant Earth alternate between life on the human colony on the planet Thalassa, a warm, wet world with a climate similar to Clarke's native Sri Lanka, and a dying Earth. Thalassa is the product of a computer-supervised seeding program. Using only human embryos (and later, DNA patterns), fully-automated robot factories and tutors raised the first generations of humans (and those born thereafter) without religion. Clarke shows how the Thalassans (or Lassans) create a peaceful society without it, and manage to not create religions of their own.
Earth is dying--or, more to the point, does die--because of instability in the Sun. Having learned that the sun will explode in the year 3600 (give or take a decade), humanity launches into space in order to ensure that it will not die off completely when its homeworld is destroyed. The last spacecraft to launch live humans (as opposed to DNA patterns) is the starship Magellan. Carrying only a fraction of remaining humanity, it carries with it the last pieces of our history, dreams, and culture with it. Bound for a harsh, habitable world light-years away, Magellan makes a stop at Thalassa to rebuild the ablation shield that protects it from interstellar dust.
Clarke posits his scenario as "realistic" space opera, in that nothing flies faster than light.
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