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The Harvest

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  426 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Offered immortality by the aliens circling the earth, most humans accept, and Dr. Matt Wheeler, one of the few who does not, is left to watch humankind transform itself into something less than human. Reprint. NYT.
Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Spectra (first published December 1992)
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Stephen Fordyce
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science fiction fans
I loved this book. It was awesome. It enthralled me from start to finish which was a surprise to me because no one recommended it to me. I found it on my own. What made it so good was the deep question it posed. Do you say yes to immortality without pain and suffering but it costs you your individuality? There were times that I cheered for the humans who said no but at other times I could see the suffering leave those who said yes. A very well written book.
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Sometimes a book will sit on my shelf for a long time before I get around to reading it. (Books on my shelf are generally books I haven't read.) I read Wilson's A Bridge of Years in 1996, and though I can't remember much about it now, at the time I really liked it, enough so that I picked up The Harvest when I saw a copy. That was probably close to 20 years ago. This is a nicely written sci-fi book which concentrates more on the human element and human interaction than the sci-fi elements, which ...more
It's so rare to find a science fiction author that concentrates as much (or more) on his characters than on the science. Wilson is one of the best I've ever read at this.

This story of the slow shutting down of society after a welcome invasion by alien visitors, and the emotional scars this leaves on the few who choose to stay behind, is as heartbreaking as it is compelling. Wilson is extremely good at asking hard questions and positing believable answers.

This book is one of the best reads I've e
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have ever questioned what makes us human, this book is an excellent opportunity to ask the question again. This is a thinking person's sci-fi. The "what if" is far superior to most sci-fi. The end of the book still left me wondering if the main character, and others who made the same choice, actually made the "right choice". It wasn't a clean ending. The best reads make you think. Our human perception can be quite different from person to person. The characters in the this novel certainly ...more
My Inner Shelf
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Je suis définitivement conquise par Wilson ! Le thème de l’immortalité est ici formidablement traité. Les humains ont le choix de rester mortel ou de devenir éternel. Chacun se retrouve face à un dilemme qui les confrontent à eux-mêmes, à ce qu’ils sont vraiment. Ceux qui ont dit non à la vie éternelle estiment ainsi conserver leur Humanité, et considèrent que les “contactés” ne sont plus humains. Ceux qui ont refusé ont tous de bonnes raisons, l’incompréhension, la peur de l’inconnu et du chang ...more
Mars Girl
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all-time favorite books of all time. It's the book that I discovered Robert Charles Wilson with and I have an actual paperback copy of this book that I got much later. I've re-read it a few times. I just loved the whole premise of a race coming to earth and offering humanity the choice to evolve. It is really a bittersweet tale with great characterization. How does one let go of ones humanity to move forward? Can everyone move forward? It's a social commentary on change.
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last humans on Earth come to terms with the others leaving; perhaps it's the realistically drawn characters, the pathos of Summer coming to an end, or meditations on mortality amongst the banal, but something really hooked me.
Jack Pramitte
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sorry Clarke's fans but for me this is Childhood's End done right because Wilson is a much better author (than Clarke) when he writes about human condition and feelings.
Geoff Battle
Wilson takes an unique approach to contact in The Harvest, although the title is somewhat of a clue. The initial third is laden with suspense as the characters are developed and this is achieved with a modicum of science. In fact it's the lack of any knowledge which makes it unnerving. Once it starts to pick up pace it shrugs off the suspense and tries to offer credible action and develops a more scientific approach. Whilst it tries to not to play its cards it fails to juggle all of these approa ...more
Kay Smillie
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Robert Charles Wilson via Spin and have since read many of his novels, working both forwards and backwards. He rarely disappoints and The Harvest is no exception. Bit of a slow start is my only minor gripe. If you were offered immortality would you say yes or be the one in ten thousand who says no? I reckon I would say no. Anyway, if you are a fan of Robert Charles Wilson, why haven't you read this?

Ray Smillie
Jason Bradley Thompson
As other reviewers have pointed out, this is a SF take on the Rapture -- the Protestant Christian end-of-the-world where the good people are taken to heaven and only a small number of people are, like the title of the right-wing book series has it, "left behind." Mysterious unseen aliens ((view spoiler)) come to Earth in a colossal spaceship and, in a single night of drea ...more
Apr 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aliens visit the Earth, but at first they're silent, visible in the sky but not engaging. Until finally, in mass dream, they speak to everybody at once with an incredible offer. They will give functional immortality to everyone who wants it. As well as other benefits. The only catch is... once death is no longer a concern to you, or anyone else, you can't help but change your outlook, your priorities... you, in essence. And maybe that means you're no longer going to be what you presently conside ...more
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008, scifi
A moon-sized alien object appears in the sky over Earth and hangs out, silently orbiting, for two years. Then, suddenly, every person on the planet is offered a chance to become immortal. One in ten thousand refuse the offer. This book is the story of what happens afterward.

Wilson does a good job mixing individual motivations and experiences with the larger questions and results of a worldwide change like this. He doesn’t dive too much into the science of it, but he does posit small machines (ne
Lisa H.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this book. As I said in an earlier update, it reminded my in some ways of Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy (specifically the first book, Dawn) - the basic premise of aliens coming to a dying Earth and transforming humans into something different, as a way of saving us. Also some hints of Stephen King's The Stand - isolated pockets of humanity making contact via ham radio, foraging for needed supplies, even (in a superficial way) the presence of a psychic b ...more
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
An alien artifact settled in orbit. A year later everyone dreams the same dream: they are offered immortality by the aliens. A few people say no. As with Blind Lake, this is a face-paced story with deep philosophical themes intertwined amongst the action. It is semi-post apocalyptic with an invasion feel with the invasion. I found it both creepy and compelling, and impossible to put down. WIlson draws very appealing and unappealing characters, but they are fascinating. He is a master at multiple ...more
Heath Alberts
This book was more about the human condition, than science fiction, per se. That being said, it's another wonderful example of the brilliance that Wilson brings to bear in the majority of his works.

A strange object in orbit is parked there for years doing - essentially - nothing for either good or ill. One fateful day, everything changes, and the entire fundamental underpinnings of what it means to be human are called into question, as The Helpers are dispatched to each city across the globe.

Jun 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought after reading Spin that I would check out another of Wilson's works. Harvest seem the highest rated here on goodreads, so I put that on my to-read list. I read about 100 pages before deciding this book was a waste of my time. The plot moves glacially, with many seemingly unrelated threads that I'm guessing all came together by the end of the book, duh. The characters are extremely unsympathetic. Oh, and then there are the aliens. Actually, at the point I stopped reading I knew almost l ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I wish I could give it three and a half stars. Definitely enjoyable and mind-expanding...a mix of existentialism and post-apocalyptica. Needs an updated edition though...written in 1994 and some passages still marvel at the advent of cell phones while characters clamor over devices such as that wonder of technology, the VCR.

I wanted to know what happened after the last I suppose there are pros and cons to that regarding the merits of this book.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another thoughtful piece of writing by Mr. Wilson where he uses the science fiction premise to raise questions about ethics, human mortality, and the nature of life itself. Although engaging throughout and sprinkled with beautiful, thought-provoking writing, the end of the novel was somewhat anti-climactic. Nevertheless, a worthwhile book by the dependable Mr. Wilson.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rip-roaring read! How will the remaining naysayers survive and will then re-form what went before or start anew? Will there be some of the old prejudices in the new situation on Earth? Will the remaining non-immortals survive? Fascinating, entertaining read. Post-apocalytpic- sort of type science-fiction that I love
Jul 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Il y a beaucoup de choses dans le vaisseau des voyageurs, beaucoup de thèmes abordés d'une évolution de l'espèce humaine à l'organisation d'un monde post-apocalyptique en passant par la guerre des mondes... Et tout cela fait trop. Trop de thèmes, trop de refus, trop de haine, trop de folie.
En passant, le titre original est bien meilleur et plus inquiétant que le titre français.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: technoutopians, transhumanists, and sf fans
A secular version of the "Left Behind" series. Wilson's recurrent themes (beneficial aliens; utopia being a state of perfect memory and immortality; environmental depletion) show up even more strongly in this earlier work. He pays slightly more attention to characterization than usual, with productive results.
David C. Mueller
This story has elements on common with Arthur C. Clarke's classic SF novel "Childhood's End." It is an "end of the world" story that is more about human transformation that destruction of civilization. As with Clarke's novel, "The Harvest" presents a form of apocalypse much different from that presented to us by most SF authors or religious texts.
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting science fiction book. Not an aliens taking over, let's fight and shoot 'em up as much as a thoughtful exploration of the human reaction to a rapidly changing world and the human condition of that who go and those who choose to stay. Can't say it was a great novel but it was interesting and reflective and I cared about the characters. I'll read more of his books.
Kelly Flanagan
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I guess I am really am giving it a 3.5. I really could have gotten into this book, but it was only luke-warm. Although I have enjoyed many of his stories short and long, this book seemed to lose his attention partway through.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readingpl
This barely makes the threshold for 4 stars, but only because the conclusion wasn't that satisfying, and I've come to expect more from Mr. Wilson. Overall, an engaging look at immortality and the end of civilization with Wilson's usual outstanding characters.
Throughly enjoyed this book. Not quite the level of SPIN. A good mix action and credibly originally crafted version of aliens/end of the world tyoe of plot. Was a good page turner for me.
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another of Wilson's novels where the smaller dramas of people's lives give believability to the elements of sweeping science fiction.
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally irrestible premise. Excellent, easily digestible writing. Woefully unsatisfying conclusion.

Filed under "great idea that didn't go anywhere."
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as other books I've read by this author, but I still liked it.
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I've been writing science fiction professionally since my first novel A Hidden Place was published in 1986. My books include Darwinia, Blind Lake, and the Hugo Award-winning Spin. My newest novel is The Affinities (April 2015).
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