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The Songs of Distant Earth Mass Market Paperback – April 12, 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a huge fan of Arthur C. Clarke, i feel this was not one of his usual great novels. It certainly had an interesting concept, and a predictable ending, but I found it dragged a... Read morePublished 23 days ago by JOANNE ALBRECHT
Arthur C. Clarke was a master wordsmith. He wrote amazing science fiction novels that took the incomprehensible and made it imaginable, all while writing with gorgeous poetic style... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
Arthur C. Clark knows is stuff. A great story with interesting science fact. Love his work. Check it out!Published 2 months ago by Charles M Collins
This was an enjoyable read. I didn't adore or dislike it. Somewhere in the middle...Published 3 months ago by Joni
Don't believe this book is as good as Clarke's previous ones.Published 3 months ago by Myrna Schosser
The story line is pretty good, but I do not think it is the same high caliber as other books he has written.Published 3 months ago by Barbara
It's not easy to find great science fiction today... Luckily we can look to our recent past to rediscover some great works from masters like Arthur C. Clark. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Michael J Harmon