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

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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'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....

Customer Reviews

A good interesting story that lacks a climax.
It is full of interesting science, of course, but the novel also depicts some interesting human elements that are not always present in Clarke's novels.
Harold Banke Jr
I highly recommend this book to any Science-Fiction and Science enthusiast!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 121 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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50 of 55 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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34 of 37 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nyght on January 18, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The reason I love most of Clarke's work is that it tends to focus on ideas and human interactions as opposed to saving the world, winning some war or saving a girl. Others, of course, will disagree.

This novel is one of the best of Clarke's later works, but for those of you looking for drama and crises that need resolved will be disappointed.

The novel takes place thousands of years in the future. Humanity discovered that our Sun was unstable and would nova far earlier than expected. In order to save part of humanity, various projects were developed to save something of our species.

One of the first used were "seeder ships". This were automated space craft containing human embryos and genetic material of many Earth creatures. The concept was that these ships would land on planets capable of sustaining human life and the automated systems on board would create a sutiable colony by providing a technological base and the onboard computers would educated the first generation of colonists birthed from the embryons on board with a very censored version of human history. The primary example of the effort to create a better human society is the censorship of religion. None of the great religious works (or works based on them) are included in the data banks of these vessels. The hope was that a society raised without religion would avoid the violence that often accompanies it.

The colony of Thalassa, where the action takes place, is a result of these plans. The Lassans live on two island of an otherwise watery world. The Earth they know is a sanatized version and their world is Eden like. Violence, jealousy and hate are rare.
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