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Terraforming Earth Hardcover – July 6, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (July 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312872003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312872007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,167,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The OED credits SF Grand Master Williamson (The Humanoids; The Legion of Time; Drago's Island; Darker Than You Think) for coining the term "terraforming" (in his 1942 novel, Seetee Ship) to describe an alien world altered for human habitation. With the terraforming of Earth itself, the original concept now gets an oblique and awesome twist well over half a century later. Williamson's skill at speculative fiction is once again evident in this far-future saga of mankind's destiny, previously serialized in Analog and Science Fiction Age. Driven by the potential threat of asteroids, wealthy eccentric Calvin DeFort set up a robot-run moonbase, Tycho Station, with frozen tissue specimens of plant and animal life. The value of this "safety net for Earth" becomes evident when a devastating asteroid impact brings a new Ice Age. Eventually, clones of the few survivors study their past history and train to reseed the planet by sowing the scarred surface with life-bombs. Bringing the gift of life, biologist Tanya and pilot Pepe are rewarded with death in the hostile environment. A million years later, more clones continue the mission. Earth evolves. A new civilization arises and crumbles. Generations of clones march through the millennia, continuing to examine the planet's riddles and ever-changing enigmas, even as Earth is on the ascendant. Throughout, poetic undercurrents permeate this masterful work by a superb chronicler of the cosmic. (July 16)Forecast: Over the decades Williamson has collected legions of fans (he published his first SF, the short story "The Metal Man," in 1928). Positive reviews plus word-of-mouth will send these loyal readers into bookstores in search of this imaginative foray into the future.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

From their home on the moon's Tycho Base, a group of clones descendants of the last humans to survive a cataclysmic asteroid impact that destroyed life on Earth view their ancestors' home and anticipate their duties to begin life again on the planet their species once called home. This latest novel by the grand old man of sf (his career began in 1928!) uses a timely theme the collision of a killer asteroid with Earth as a springboard for exploring the far-reaching consequences of such a disaster, both for Earth and for any survivors. Fans of hard science and old-fashioned sf adventure should enjoy this vividly imagined tale of life at the far end of time. For most sf collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

If you are a fan of the science fiction genre, this is a must read.
P. B. Terry
Very easy to blink, while trying to stay awake... On top of it all, no explanation on how the heck the moon base stays operative for millions upon millions of years.
Michael Hoffman
Just don't expect much in the way of fully-formed characters or plot resolution and you'll be fine.
Terrell Miller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hoffman on March 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book in one sitting. Sadly, not because it was so good, but because I read page after page hoping the book would live up to the promise of the topic and of the author's name.
It didn't. Had the book come from any "lesser" author, I would have settled for 3 stars. But coming from Williamson it was such a let-down I can only give it 1 star.
The characters were unlikeable, indecisive caricatures.
- The perky Hispanic pilot/engineer stereotype who drops some Spanish exclamation more often than Scotty saying "the engines cannae tek it, cap'n". Asexual it seems, or such a sideshow token that the author doesn't care whether he has a love life or not.
- The domineering bully Teuton/Norse who really is a coward - and yet always attracts the girls and becomes the alpha-male. Being German myself this pathetic cartoon really grated.
- The intelligent can-do Asian scientist woman who just can't help herself falling for the Germanic guy above. Or declaring her love for the narrator, but still jumping into bed with alpha-hombre (no not the Hispanic guy)
- The dreamy librarian girl, unattractive and caring only for her books. But she often as not ends up in a menage a troi with the previous two.
- The Asian-African-American who forces himself on to the crew to escape the original Armageddon with his girlfriend. Probably the most likeable of the unlikeable bunch, though his obsession with his girlfriend takes on "Jungian archetype" elements in the way he nearly deifies her. (and the books ending doesn't help that one bit).
- His girlfriend, the goddess-whore stereotype. Saint Mary Magdalene. Nuff said.
- And finally, our narrator, who never seems to DO anything.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Terraforming Earth is a first person perspective story about what happens in the long run after a major collision with Earth. The original plot is very interesting and it keeps you turning the pages to see what will happen. The main characters each have their own personalities and every time they are reborn they follow their same path with a few different variations each time. The new characters who are added into the story later in the book help keep the story from getting boring.
Jack Williamson still has creative ideas even as he is getting older. He changes the direction of the story it seems in the middle and a few times later so that it doesn't get too repetitive. You start to really like a few of the characters and hate a few of the others. I rarely like any books that are first person perspective but this book protrayed the story as if the narrator was indifferent to what was happening. He just told it like it was instead of bogging the story down with his thoughts and emotions. It did not get a five star because some of the story seemed very pointless and the ending was kind of weird. But the story keeps you anxious to see what will happen from their actions when they are born again.
Bottom line- Good plot but a little repetitive although the repetition is what makes it interesting. Four stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James P. Lea on September 15, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Jack Williamson was one of my favorite writers when I was growing up and their is enough to this novel to remind me of why I have enjoyed his books so much over the years. At the same time it also illustrated what is missing in some of the science fiction that is written today.

This book takes place initially in the near future after the earth has been decimated by the impact of an enormous asteroid. Fortunately millionare Calvin DeFort had narrowly completed an outpost on the moon and has robots in place to ensure that the clones of a select few survivors will carry on the human species.

What makes these connected series of novellas work is that Jack Williamson never loses sight of what makes us human-both the good and the bad-and the triumphs and the tragedies that go with being human. Combined with a sense of wonder about the universe and evolution this is an very entertaining and captivating tale from a true master of Science Fiction
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is really four novelettes retrofitted around "The Ultimate Earth," a novelette which (inexplicably) won all sorts of awards. Like a lot of "novels" that are jury-rigged around extended short stories, this one has all the weaknesses and few of the strengths that other such novels have. (The best novel of this kind is Fred Pohl's Years of the City, a clear masterpiece.) I found the only good section of this book to be the first. It sets up a remarkable premise and sets about unfolding it rather well. But by the time the book ends, you really don't know who is who and the far future earth seems more like modern-day Africa. Not a single imaginative trope in sight.
This would be an excellent first book, however. Unfortunately, it isn't. The five star ratings this book has received clearly are given to the man and not the work. This isn't a good place to start with one's reading of Jack Williamson.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thetwonky on July 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first problem with this work is it never really lives up to the title. There is no hard science behind the Earth's future evolution as chronicled here. The characters cloned on the moon charged to repopulate and re-form the Earth's ecology do by happenstance- or perhaps a complete lack of care on the part of the author's. They all just bend with the wind, their actions never directly affecting change. They are simply observers- which also could be the fault of Williamson's choice to use the first person narrative for the book, told by the clones' official biographer and journalist.

I kept reading just to see what the next generations of clones would encounter, and was somewhat disappointed with each section. All of the chapters are almost separate short stories, with the original short, which this work builds upon (which I have not previously read) somewhat sticking out like a sore thumb.

Williamson also shows signs of not quite maturing beyond his 50s sci-fi novels, with winged creatures and mind-controlling parasites populating a few of the chapters. Sorry Jack, but contemporary readers need more than a chronicle with such a heady topic.
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