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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  4,685 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is Kate Wilhelms science-fiction award-winning story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself through a perilous experiment in cloning.
Audio CD
Published December 1st 2006 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
David Sumner has a problem: the world as he knows it is about to end. what's a brilliant young man and his equally brilliant family to do? why, bring back members of that extended family, store supplies, circle the wagons, and build a lab which will eventually help the Sumner family to repopulate the earth, of course. sounds like a good plan to me.

there's something about the 70s that I just really dig. many things, actually. besides the wonderfully hideous clothes and the wonderfully not-hideous
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Erich Franz Guzmann
"She shook her head, her eyes fixed, staring at the nightmare scene before them. Who had done this? Why? It was as if the people had converged here to destroy this place that had failed them in the end so completely."

The scene that is described here was indeed nightmarish, as was a large portion of this story. Although there were a lot of dark scenes throughout, it did have some bright and uplifting scenes to redeem its eerie disposition. I was on a roller coaster of emotions while reading this
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Nandakishore Varma
(Edit to add: the review below contains what some may consider to be spoilers. But on the whole, I do not think that reading this review will spoil the enjoyment of the book for you.)

Science fiction stories usually concern the impact of the progress of science on human beings. When the science part dominates, it is called “Hard SF”: when the human part dominates, it is “Soft SF”. However, this is not a rigid categorisation as most Hard SF stories (for example, Asimov’s Foundation series) contain
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Candiss
Aug 31, 2010 Candiss rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all lovers of intelligent speculative literature
I should have read Kate Wilhelm’s stellar Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang years ago. I had it in the back of my mind as a seminal work, a must-read, for just short of forever, yet I never found myself actually diving in to that first page. Then I won a copy through the Goodreads Firstreads contest, and I knew my time with this speculative classic had finally come. I received my copy, became flush with excitement…and reverently shelved the book, as I didn’t have the time and energy to do justice ...more
Sandi
I think that Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang really needed to be longer. The scope of the novel is much too large for for its short length. (The audio version is about 11 minutes shy of 8 hours.) The story covers several "generations" and many decades.

I found Wilhelm's prose to be beautiful. Her descriptions of the Shenandoah Valley are richly detailed. She brings each season to life in the imagination with words. The problems I had with the story were mainly with the SF details.
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Kerry
Jul 27, 2010 Kerry rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to have to think a little
Shelves: 2010, reread, sf, 9
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
francesca
Jul 22, 2008 francesca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
After a mysterious blight literally wipes out global populations, one economically/socially/intellectually prominent family manages to survive and perpetuate life on their farm by cloning themselves.

The exploration of sexuality, individuality, and institutionalism is so deliciously concieved and executed in this book.

Better yet, it is beautifully written, which is rare in a sci-fi work of this depth and scope.

Wilhelm has given the world a truly relevant and insightful piece of work.
Simon
For me, this was one of those books you come to having heard starkly contrasting opinions about it, that leaves you with confused expectations and wondering what could be so divisive. But now, having finished it, I have to say I didn't find it divisive at all and am left wondering whether the book's harshest critics were even reading the same book.

This was great, well written, thought-provoking SF that explores one of the more interesting themes in SF; how important is individuality and how shou
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Stephen
3.5 stars. Well-written, well thought out post-apocalyptic science fiction story exploring the nature of individuality and what it means to be human. Worth reading.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction novel
Winner: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction novel
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction novel
Sooz
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

from a sonnet by Shakespeare

Wilhelm's choice of title for her 'end of the world as we know it' novel conjures up a whistful rememberance of things past. in the brave new world she describes there is peace and unity and harmony, but there is no Shakespeare. no Van Gogh, a Keats, Mozart or Kid Rock. nor will there ev
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Sarah
I first read this book when I was fourteen. I read all of Kate Wilhelm's sf novels that same year, and some of her mysteries. Since then, both book and author have always been on my list of favorites, but in truth, I had completely forgotten the actual content.
On reread a lifetime later, it absolutely stands up. The language is beautiful. The premise is haunting. It follows a small community of survivors of a slow global cataclysm, and the decisions they make to maintain their community. I can s
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Erik Graff
May 28, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I'm so lucky to have grown up when the science fiction genre was being invaded by women like Kate Wilhem and Ursula K. LeGuin. While a few male writers like Theodore Sturgeon could construct believable characters, the women who made it in the field all seemed gifted with psychological insight and the ability to instantiate it. Furthermore, some of them extended the predicate of the genre to include sciences like ecology, psychology and anthropology in addition to the traditional engineering, che ...more
Nikki
I really wanted to like this book. Other people spoke so highly of it. But it felt so familiar: the themes, the characters (barely sketched out as they were), the whole setting... Parts of the writing are beautiful, but overall to me it felt too moralising, too typical. The idea that cloning will destroy individuality and thus creativity doesn't seem fresh -- though goodness knows, I haven't tried to work out the chronology of that idea: for all I know, Wilhelm was the first. It just didn't work ...more
Eric
Before I get into my opinion of this book, this coincidence was too odd for me not to mention, although I am not sure it will interest anyone else. The protagonist of this novel is named David, and about 25% of the way into the book he has a conversation with some of the clones that is almost verbatim to this dialogue between Dave and HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey:
Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry,
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Amy Sturgis
It's a testament to the strength of Kate Wilhelm's grasp of "hard" science and the subtlety of her grasp of human nature that this 1977 science fiction novel (winner of the Hugo Award) is as relevant today as when she wrote it. It easily could have been published yesterday.

The novel follows an extended family as they retreat from society to survive a global meltdown (economic, environmental, topped off by a nuclear holocaust). Led by far-sighted leaders and gifted scientists, they seek to preser
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Althea Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
sologdin
Post-apocalyptic, told in three parts, each separated by an unstated amount of time and involving a change of narrator, with some amount of rebuilding in evidence after they blew it up, those maniacs, but with the rebuilders ultimately consumed anyway, with some small survival thereafter. That level of generality makes it sound like A Canticle for Leibowitz. It does not appear to be derivative of Miller, though; Wilhelm hints at nuclear war through the presence of lethal radioactivity, but the d ...more
Stefan Yates
Dealing with the sensitive subject of cloning and its effects on an isolated colony of clones, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, is a continuous storyline separated into sections with many years in between them. Each segment, so-to-speak, has it's own protagonists and antagonists and crises to deal with and overcome.

Even with the skipping of years in-between segments, the story-line stays pretty continuous and the reader is really able to develop a bond with the characters in a way that I wouldn
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Joanna
Fascinating.
Frightening.
Hopeful.

This apocalyptic novel took over my life today. Copyright 1974 and it reads like a current bestseller. I was completely swept up in the story, and long for the many characters to all become whole. I was constantly reminded of other works with similar themes, especially Darwin's Radio, Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged, and, unavoidably, The Handmaid's Tale. This was the most readable of them and also the most innovative attempt to recreate a livable world. Excellent
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Gremlin
Post apocalyptic future, cloning, questions of individuality vs the community. What's not to love? Wilhelm skips over alot of the details to get straight to the meat of her points. The novel feels like 3 short story/novellas that lead one to the other. Solid and fascinating.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat
5 stars according to Goodreads means 'this was amazing'. 5 stars in another source, such as Bookmarks magazine, means 'it is a classic'. This is true of this book. I liked it so very much from beginning to end. The book was written in 1976 and is still meaningful.

The premise of the book is that a family - an extended family - lives in a valley and has done well financially for themselves. They believe apocalyptic events eventually will come and while no one can be certain of the outcomes, they
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Clark Hallman
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is a classic science-fiction novel, written by Kate Wilhelm in 1976. Wilhelm published her first short fiction (The Pint-Size Genie) in the October 1956 issue of Fantastic, which was an American digest-sized fantasy and science fiction magazine published from 1952 to 1980. She went on the publish her work in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Locus, Amazing Stories, Asimov's Science Fiction, and other publications. Wilhelm established herself as one of t ...more
Jay
One of the lessons of this book -- that the difference between learning how to do things and learning how to learn is both vast and important -- is one of my favorite lessons of all time.

What did I think of this book? I really enjoyed the first and last of the three sections. For reasons I cannot quite explain, I found the middle section to be a little slower. The language was still beautiful and the characters were still interesting, but, nevertheless, I set the book aside easily after each cha
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Buck Ward
Kate Wilhelm is the author of quite a few novels, some of which are science fiction. I was previously unfamiliar with her and this is the first I have read. Her style of writing is straightforward and succinct.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is the story of an extended family that survives the-end-of-civilization-as-we-know it. It is somewhat similar to Earth Abides by George R. Stewart in that it is post-apocalyptic rather than apocalyptic, following a burgeoning new society in the aftermath of
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Bethany
Gremlin Jane's review of this book inspired me to get the book on e-bay.

A book entirely worth reading! A fascinating look at the "end of our race" when we are no longer able to procreate. Scientists come up with a cloning solution, but how will the clones deal with the new world? Is cloning the solution?

Lots of fascinating and completely believable details - remarkable how spot on this book is! Even though it was written in the 70s, it still holds true.
Linda Robinson
Lyrical river of prose flowing over the bedrock of a plot. The Shenandoah provides a genius metaphor: whatever can be built to best the river, those floating on it are subject to the power of water. Wilhelm gently examines the poles of tight community and rugged individualism, and the consequences of both. We follow several generations of original Sumners, isolated in their wealth and desire to keep their legacy in the world of disease and what we assume is obliterating war, but Wilhelm lets the ...more
Laurel
Its been a long time since I've read a book in one sitting - but this story captured me. It is not a depressing, post-apocalyptic story. More a cautionary tale that encourages you to explore, to think about the world around you. I don't want to say more, to give anything away, but I highly recommend taking up this tale!
Mitticus
La humanidad se encuentra al borde la extinción por la contaminación y sobreconsumo. Hay plaga y se produce esterilidad en todo el planeta disminuyendo alimentos y población. David Sumner viene de una gran familia y ellos ven lo que va a ocurrir.


...Igual que los dinosaurios no sabían cómo detener su propia extinción. Hemos modificado las reacciones fotoquímicas de la atmósfera, ¡y no podemos adaptarnos a las nuevas radiaciones tan velozmente como para sobrevivir! Se ha insinuado aquí y allá qu
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Oscar
La traducción de esta novela al español ha sido 'La estación del crepúsculo', supongo que por razones editoriales, ya que el título en inglés, 'Donde antaño cantaban las gentiles aves', podía llevar a confusión. Digo yo, porque estos cambios de título nunca los he entendido muy bien.

Este libro trata sobre la clonación, sobre cómo una solución puede convertirse en un problema a largo plazo. La historia transcurre en el valle donde la familia Sumner tienen sus granjas, formadas por miembros de tod
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Kate Wilhelm has won the Hugo and several Nebula Awards. She is the widow of author and editor Damon Knight.
More about Kate Wilhelm...
Death Qualified - A Mystery of Chaos (Barbara Holloway #1) The Best Defense (Barbara Holloway #2) The Deepest Water A Wrongful Death (Barbara Holloway #10) Desperate Measures (Barbara Holloway #6)

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