Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Imperial Earth” as Want to Read:
Imperial Earth
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Imperial Earth

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,880 ratings  ·  197 reviews
Imperial Earth is the fascinating odyssey of Duncan Makenzie, traveling from Titan, a moon of Saturn, to Earth, as a diplomatic guest of the United States for the celebration of its Quincentennial in the year 2276. Titan, an independent republic, was originally colonized from Earth three generations earlier. Duncan's initial challenge is to prepare, physically and intellec ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 7th 2005 by iBooks (first published September 18th 1975)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Imperial Earth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Imperial Earth

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,880 ratings  ·  197 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Imperial Earth
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2007
This book is chockful of twists and surprises. At the beginning it looked like nothing more than an exuberant, gratuitous, though admittedly juicy, narration of life on Titan, the biggest of Saturn's moons. Clarke's description of hydrocarbon clouds and ammonia snow, the rose-tinted atmosphere and the wax formation that wraps around lukewarm volcanic effluvium is mesmerizing, as is his characters, the Makenzie twins, separated by decades, because they are clones. Add to that the fact that book w ...more
Unexpectedly romantic are the words that describe Imperial Earth. For many years I have known this novel only by its title. Based on that title, I had assumed the novel would feel bold and grandiose in every respect. So I was not prepared for how unexpectedly intimate and introspective it is.

If novels like 2001 and Rendezvous with Rama are operas, Imperial Earth is more of a play. And I love a good play. Get me musing about deep aspects of humanity and science, and I will pardon the ab
Nutshell: copy of a copy of the colonial administrator on Titan travels to Earth to make yet another copy of himself, gets re-involved in love triangle, gives congressional speech at US quincentennial, &c.

Doesn't ever really get off the ground for me. Not until the final third of the volume does the love triangle reactivate, along with an arbitrarily associated techno-financial intrigue. The latter involves the construction of a very large radio telescope to pick up kilometer-sized radio waves t
Overall, I really, really liked this book --- I withheld one star for some minor complaints that made it fall short of perfect for me, which I will get to later.

It's very well plotted --- things are introduced early on in the story, in the vignettes capturing the protagonist's childhood on Titan, that all get woven into the plot much later, when he comes to Earth to give a speech at the United States's quincentennial celebration.

It also has great character development; the protagonist, Duncan Ma
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
I just re-read this after an interval of roughly 35 years. Written to commemorate the US bicentennial in 1976, it’s basically propaganda for space travel and technological innovation, aimed at young Americans. It is set in a future where space travel within the solar system is common, colonies have been established on (at least) Mercury, the Moon, Mars and Titan, and the American political model, tempered by a degree of enlightened authoritarianism, has been extended throughout the Solar Stystem ...more
Booknerd Fraser
Sep 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
It's been a while since I picked up Clarke, and somehow I missed this when I was younger. In a lot of ways, I'm glad I waited, because there are some parts of this that would not have effected me the same way when I was younger.

It's probably the best character work Clarke ever did. The main character tours Earth - well, the US, mostly, in 2276, coming from his home on Titan. So it's part future travelogue. It's fun to see how close Clarke comes to things just 30 years later (the Internet, person
Well this was pretty cool.

Descriptions of Titan, of space travel, and of a depopulated and reforested earth are all great. I also like the idea of Washington DC as a giant smithsonian. Settings are all great as usual.

The social/cultural observations which are thrown in are pretty neat too. For example (spoilers) the main character is black, but this is only revealed halfway through the book as an inconsequential detail. He is also bisexual, as are most people. Religion and meat eating have also
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
In 2276, the US is celebrating the 500th celebration of its independence, and the colony from distant Tritan is sending a member of its ruling family to speak. Duncan Makenzie, the third 'generation' of Makenzies, the younger two being clones of the patriarch, is in his early 30s and will make his first journey to the home world, Earth. This means that Clarke creatively develops Titan, a colony on a moon of Saturn that is very inhospitable to earthlings, but where we've built a colony that's wor ...more
Jenny Yates
Dec 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi

Clarke might as well have written an essay called, "What I Think Earth Will Be Like In the Year 2276". There's hardly any plot; the characters are wooden. Even when somebody dies, there's no drama.

I picked this up for a quick escapist read, but I could barely finish it. Every once in a while, I thought to myself, "I'm not nerd enough for this book."
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The year is 2276 much of the solar system has been colonized. Duncan Makenzie of the most important family of (Saturn's moon) Titan is traveling to Earth for the first time to partake in the 500th anniversary of the US declaration of independence, and also to clone himself to continue the family line (he is himself a clone).
The plot is of minimal interest, it is just a vehicle for Clarke to expand on various ideas- cloning, living on Titan, space travel, the search for extra terrestrial life, ma
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover
Though far from a perfect novel, this was a wonderful speculative trip to the future; the year of America's Quincentennial, to be precise. It was published in time for its two-hundredth ('76).

Note: Isaac Asimov wrote the excellent "The Bicentennial Man" for the same occasion.

What Clarke wrote was a simple story of a man "Duncan Makenzie" who visits the Earth from a colony at Titan for diplomatic reasons - and also in order to clone himself while there.

The story as a whole is very optimistic, as
Daniel Kukwa
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-sf-fantasy
I think SF author Ben Bova must have read this and had his socks knocked off; the flavour of "Imperial Earth" is all over his lovely Grand Tour novels, and you can see in Arthur Clarke's book the inspiration for Bova's more recent epic series (and it's all win-win, as far as this SF fan is concerned). It's an odd title for a novel that is an exquisite exercise in peaceful world-building, but Clarke creates a living, breathing future you can reach out and touch. Mind you, some of the dreamy tropi ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As wonderful as is to be expected from Clarke. Love love love his vision of Earth in the not so distand future.
Brayden Raymond
Right so at first this book honestly felt kinda like Duncan was just logging his journey to Earth. It felt weird with no clear plot direction to me, other than to get a clone etc. However that quickly changed and things picked up. Like a snowball rolling down a hill. Clarke builds and builds the tension within this novel until it finally spills over the edge. The resolution fits quite well and left me feeling content. Especially with the twist at the end that I had pegged a few pages before it w ...more
Henry Tegner
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought a hard back version of this book many years ago. This year I got the Kindle edition and also the audible edition, brilliantly narrated by Mike Grady. I used the 'immersion' option whereby I could both listen and read the text at the same time. I have read the printed edition perhaps three times over the years, but I have to day that I got so much more out of it hearing it being read so well.

Clarke consistently made predictions concerning the development of technology. His concept of the
Bruce Burnham
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful reading! As are all of Mr Clarks’s works. I have not yet found one that did not hold me to the end.

I am on the autism spectrum, since birth obviously. My mother loved rocks, steam trains, other things that were not typical of mothers of her time, which is where the autism spectrum came into play. I am barely able to foresee the multiple futures that Mr Clarke could imagine. Yet i enjoy all of his literature, that i began reading in gradeschool. But the first book i purchased in grade
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The ruling family of Titan are invited to Earth for the 500th anniversary of the American republic and the youngest scion, Duncan, is sent. As we follow his journey, we encounter politics, singularity-driven spaceships, zero-gravity sex, the wonder of seeing Earth with fresh eyes and more.

Starting on Titan, we get Clarke's famously precise and yet poetic descriptions of the landscape and the technology needed to maintain life on that harsh, forbidding world. As Duncan travels to Earth we see som
David Roberts
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am reviewing the hard science fiction novel Imperial Earth by Arthur C Clarke which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. This novel was written in 1975 and I think it's one of his better novels and the theme of autonomous regions wanting self rule and drugs is quite apt to that period historically and still is today. The plot is there is a teenage lad whose grandad is a prominent scientist and ruler of Titan which is also governed from Earth and is like an autonomous region with in ...more
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like in most Clarke novels, what stood out in this book where the sourroundings. The decriptions of life on Titan were really interesting and also the pentominoes, the Asymptotic Drive, and everything about radio.
The novel is set in 2276, and I have heard some of these things are rather far fetched and impossible, but since I don't have a scientific background and this is sci-fi, that did not bug me. Some of the predictions that Clarke made in this book have already come true today, like the int
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
I admit that I haven't read every single book Arthur C. Clarke has ever read, but of his books that I have read this is without a doubt the very worst.

There seemed to be a disconnect between the plot elements in the three acts with little feeling of flow or foreshadowing. The characterization was OK, but it still felt like the characters were put in artificial situations.

Of the themes that it explored, I've seen them done better elsewhere. One of the major themes was the impact of cloning on t
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I thought this book was entertaining. It didn't have any stark life realizations, or a connection to something deeper, and was often quite confusing, but overall it was enjoyable. I think it was probably Clarke's ideas about what the future could hold, and the immense beauty of that, in a novel. It held a lot of unimportant details, unconnected to the real point of the story, and then when it got to the point of the story, there were important parts missing. The ending was a tad confusing, and s ...more
Stephen Poltz
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Couched in a travelogue story about a man from Titan visiting the earth to help celebrate the U.S.’s quadricentennial, this novel is a look at where we can be in another two hundred years. It predicts a future where being bisexual is the norm and technology has advanced us to a non-aggressive, relatively peaceful world. It is great reading, though in place of much action, Clarke’s writing fills you with a sense of scientific wonder.

Come visit my blog for the full review…
John Ess
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Arthur C Clarke at his very, very best. He got it one hundred percent right; his blend between science fiction and science future fact. In my opinion, it could be exactly the way things may be, and likely will be, in a couple of hundred years from now. Interestingly, the probes put out around Saturn and Jupiter are discovering the very things that Clarke postulated in this work.

After multiple reads I still can't put it down. Well worth the read.
Erik Graff
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Clarke fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Suspect I obtained this from the Science Fiction Book Club, membership in which I held off and on for many years. Clarke was a known quantity unlike many of the other authors available.

Written for the bicentennial, this is not among Clarke's better works.
Ami Iida
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi
It is only interesting topic of group theory.
boring ,boring,boring..................
Peter Cook
May 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In terms of Clarke’s fiction writing, Imperial Earth was originally published after Rendezvous with Rama (1973) and before The Fountains of Paradise (1979). It is at the point where Clarke’s fiction output was noticeably slowing down, as time was taken in other pursuits – a permanent move to Sri Lanka took up most of his time. Clarke was now in his sixties and his interest in writing fiction appears to be dwindling, something Clarke himself felt when he finished writing Rendezvous with Rama, pub ...more
Charles Anderson
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting re-reading this book about solar system politics in the year 2276. The plot is not exciting: this is Clarke making predictions about life 300 years in his future; the one element of tension in the novel ends abruptly, unconvincingly though also very conveniently. This is an ideas book.

Clarke's predictions concerning the availability of human knowledge via home "comsoles" or handheld "Secs" are spot on, though I suppose he can be forgiven for not foreseeing natural language interfaces
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction, 2017
A rare miss from Mr. Clarke. All of the individual components are present, but they fail to form a cohesive whole given the lack of clear narrative. It is structurally similar to Against the Fall of Night, but while all of the interesting ideas in that book are natural extensions of the main plot, Imperial Earth completely rerouts the story in the last third for no good reason.

Clarke's prose here is typical: serviceable, with occasionally lyricism, but overall prosaic.

The ideas explored include
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hawksbill Station
  • Across a Billion Years
  • Mastodonia
  • Tau Zero
  • Brain Wave
  • Time Is the Simplest Thing
  • The Caledonian Gambit
  • Paingod and Other Delusions
  • All My Sins Remembered
  • Nightwings
  • A Choice of Gods
  • Nine Tomorrows
  • The Boat of a Million Years
  • Dragon and Thief (Dragonback, #1)
  • Search the Sky
  • Mission of Gravity
  • The Hole: Hard Science Fiction
  • 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories
See similar books…
Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
66 likes · 17 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“For the last century, almost all top political appointments [on the planet Earth] had been made by random computer selection from the pool of individuals who had the necessary qualifications. It had taken the human race several thousand years to realize that there were some jobs that should never be given to the people who volunteered for them, especially if they showed too much enthusiasm. As one shrewed political commentator had remarked: “We want a President who has to be carried screaming and kicking into the White House — but will then do the best job he possibly can, so that he’ll get time off for good behavior.” 19 likes
“Even more alarming were persistent rumors that someone had smuggled an Emotion Amplifier on board 'Mentor'. The so-called joy machines were banned on all planets, except under strict medical control; but there would always be people to whom reality was not good enough, and who would want to try something better.” 4 likes
More quotes…