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The Songs of Distant Earth

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  15,165 ratings  ·  647 reviews
Just a few islands in a planetwide ocean, Thalassa was a veritable paradise—home to one of the small colonies founded centuries before by robot Mother Ships when the Sun had gone nova and mankind had fled Earth.

Mesmerized by the beauty of Thalassa and overwhelmed by its vast resources, the colonists lived an idyllic existence, unaware of the monumental evolutionary event s
Mass Market Paperback, 319 pages
Published January 1991 by Del Rey/Ballantine Books (first published 1986)
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Javier Demidoff Hi! I must confess I have not read "Fountains of paradise". But in the spanish edition of "The Songs of Distant Earth", that I have finished today, th…moreHi! I must confess I have not read "Fountains of paradise". But in the spanish edition of "The Songs of Distant Earth", that I have finished today, there is a note written by Arthur Clarke saying, as you say too, that this space elevators appear in his novel "Fountains...", written in the same years that he first theorised about the idea, in an international Astronautical Congress in Munich (1979, if not wrong). I think there is something wonderful when an author makes refferences to him/herself along his/her books -it is like adding pieces to a huge creation, a unique, complex and full-of-detail world. Regards!(less)

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Paul Baker
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Spoiler Alert!

The Songs of Distant Earth is a very thoughtful science fiction novel. It's not chock full of chases and weird experiments or other derring-do, but it keeps the reader involved and more importantly it makes the reader think. It is a good example of what is known as “hard science fiction.” Written by Arthur C. Clarke, a man who is no stranger to science, the book deals more with real possibilities than with theories that have no apparent foundation in reality.

The main portion of the
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When Clarke dealt with science, he was brilliant. When Clarke dealt with sociology and the nature of man as he did in this work, he did not shine so brightly. If you want to know what an atheist thinks mankind could or would be if he could just rid himself of all that cumbersome superstition (aka religion and morality) and also shed all his violent tendencies including the will to power, then you should read "Songs of Distant Earth" because that is the main theme of the work.
You should be warne
Heather Twidle
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sci-fi lit geeks tend, I've learned, to fall into one of two categories: Asimov fans, or Clarke fans. I loved the Foundation trilogy as a kid, but this simple novel - even with its fairly bland characters - was so delicate and sad that it launched me firmly into the Clarke camp, and not just because there was a pony in it. ...more
Daniel Villines
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Songs of Distant Earth reaches considerably close to being the science-fiction novel of my dreams. For some time, I’ve longed for a sci-fi novel that invested as heavily into its characters as it did in science and the future. In this way, this ideal sci-fi novel would achieve a balance between characters, plot, and setting. This book does just that.

The Songs of Distant Earth is a human story. Its message speaks to who we are and its contemplations speak to who we may become. Clarke engaging
Jose Moa
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A atipical novel of Arthur Clarke more focused in cultural and human relations than in tecnichal aspects ;the novel relates the arraival in manteinance of ice shield of an interestelar ship carryng millions of criogeniced humans escaping of a solar destruction of earth in a journey to colonice another habitable planet,the place of the scale is a planet named Thalassa where in an small continent live a ancient and near utopical human comunity open minded.The narration focuses on cultural shock be ...more
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of both science fiction and Arthur C. Clarke, I must admit that I was disappointed with this book.

There were some positive aspects to this book. The writing style is characteristic of Clarke with it's convincing descriptions of science fiction worlds and technology. There is also a fairly convincing romantic relationship that developed in the story. I especially enjoyed how this relationship was not of the usual sort but rather based on post-WW2 progressive/liberal notions of sexual fre
It is an OK book, but I must admit I was left slightly disappointed by it.
In truth, I was expecting something much more remarkable and less forgettable by one of the creators of the "Space Odyssey" masterpiece.
The characters are bland, there is no trace of the sense of awe and of epic exploration of a beautiful and enigmatic Cosmos that so pervaded Space Odyssey, and the society of Thalassa bored me to tears.
The plot feels incompletely developed - there are some interesting and promising them
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was an interesting novel and contained a sorrowful but essentially hopeful vibe about the future of humanity and of our Earth. The thing with Arthur C Clarke were his scientific predictions; satellites being the most prominent that he was renowned for. The Songs of Distant Earth takes his visionary foresight a step further (it is worth mentioning at this stage that I have only read a barebone fraction of his massive amount of literature and short stories, but had grown up with his Televisio ...more
Debbie Zapata
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: saturdaymx
I was vaguely disappointed when I finished this book, but I am not exactly sure why. The story was mostly interesting, and yet never captivated me like others of Clarke's have done. It felt a little jumbled, bouncing around from here to there, and yet that could just be my state of mind these days. I may not feel the same about the book if I re-read some day when my own life is not bouncing around.

Thalassa is a planet that was colonized by robot ships when the Sun was close to going nova. But ev
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A fable about two societies in which the one who managed to emerge in a far-away panthalassic planet called Thalassa from human and contemporary creatures seed-ships which were sent by Earth People to nearby various habitable planetary systems in case they didn't make it before the sun goes into Nova, and the other society who had sent the seed-ships in the first place who managed not to annihilate amidst the chaos and chose to wander the stars from the solar system to furthering the survival of ...more
I decided that one of my favorite thing about Clarke's books (read 6 so far) is his faith in human kind. I enjoy his utopias he obviously envisioned we will achieve with further development of technology.
Some readers say nothing happens in this book/even his other books. I think those are completely missing the beauty of his opus. Miracles of unbeliavable vision happen.

The Utopia of Thalassa (and yet so realistic) and the last Millenia of Earth are stories withing a story. And of course the sc
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
A utopian human colony in the far future that is visited by travelers from a doomed Earth, as the Sun has gone nova.

The story is set in early 3800s, on an oceanic planet called Thalassa.
Thalassa was populated by an embryonic seed pod, one of many sent from earth when humans discovered that the sun would go nova and burn earth and all the solar system.

700 years after it's population, Thalassa is visited by a seed ship that was sent from dying earth on it's way to a distant planet. As communicati
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr-clean-2017
Clarke's sci-fi always stands the test of time, he was visionary enough for his ideas to be relevant for a very long time. I also like his blend of philosphy and future. The story was a blend of a ton of different ideas, mutiny, extr-terrestrial intelligence, population control and a species without a home. Lots to think about, unfortunately for me, too much. I never got caught up in any of the issues, too surface an exaamination for a 4 star rating. ...more
P.J. Wetzel
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
'Songs of Distant Earth' is a masterpiece because Arthur C. Clarke took the time to make it one. It began life as a 12,000 word short story in 1957, was turned into a screenplay in 1979, and then expanded into its final form in 1985. Clarke considered this to be his own favorite novel, and it shows. It combines hard science fiction with in-depth character development and some good sub-plots.

The basic story is one of an encounter, on a tropical paradise world called Thalassa, between two differen
The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

written deliberately against science fantasy of star wars, this is the beauty, the awe, the wonder, from actual scientific extrapolation. i like this for the elegiac promised future for earth and how we might change, yet be the same, ever as we go out to the galaxy…

here are others read by ACC-

5 stars-

Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke

i remember this book as a kid, but have read it at least 3 times as an adult. this is a comforting, engaging, ty
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not my favorite Arthur C. Clarke book, but it has its moments. Since he's my favorite of the Big Three 20th century SF writers (Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein), I've been meaning to check it out. What spurred me to do so now is that I just finished Adrian Tchaikovsky's Arthur C. Clarke-Award-Winning Children of Time, which is a much newer and different book, but one with some Clarke-style Big Ideas (multiple waves of far future space exploration, hibernation, animal intelligence, etc.). In ...more
In The Songs of Distant Earth, renowned author Arthur C. Clarke evokes sentiments of bittersweet sadness by ruminating upon a postulated loss of Earth and upon the vanishing insignificance of individual lives in the context of timescales measured by centuries and millenia.
An idyllic extraterrestrial ocean world provides a pleasant setting for an engaging story that is built upon elements of hard science fiction, which form an interesting plot without becoming overbearing. Short chapters and goo
May 19, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Solarpunk BOM
A colony ship makes an emergency stop in a small peaceful village of a world. The island of Thalassa welcomes them and there is some romance, and heart ache, but both ways of life, pioneer and quietly settled, are presented as equivalent for happiness.
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book back in 1987 and rediscovered over the holidays. Earth and the solar system has been destroyed by a dying sun. The last of mankind has set out on a long journey to a new home on a rugged distant planet. Very much like sailors traveling the oceans they stop along the way for supplies and discover that a colony they feared was destroyed hundreds of years ago is actually doing quite well. Do they stay with the colony or continue on to their destination?

I really enjoyed the book an
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The huge interstellar space ship Magellan has docked for a while on the world Thalassa, which had been peopled with earthlings years before our solar system self-destructed. The newcomers must make repairs to their ice shield, and Thalassa is the right place to do it, as it is almost entirely ocean.

Arthur C. Clarke's The Songs of Distant Earth is a tale of the differences between the new arrivals and the original colonists, who resemble nothing so much as the Polynesians being visited by Captain
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite hard sci-fi novels of all time

So, I've re-read this book many times now, and it is one of my favorite hard sci-fi novels. Not a lot of dramatic action, but a story very well told. It looks back from the far future; scientists discovered that Earth's sun was doomed to supernova, so humanity tried to colonize the stars. Thalassa, an ocean world with very little landmass, was colonized over 700 years ago. The people have developed a unique culture, a planned one, when a ship arri
David Elkins
Jun 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Meh. Really, this book has almost no tension or conflict. There was nothing to look forward to at the end. Nothing to resolve. Just forgettable characters and a lazy plot that could have been so much more. There are many very interesting ideas and questions about humanity that could have been pursued. But the effort seemed only half-hearted.

The synopsis of the book at the top of its entry in Goodreads is more interesting to read.
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
This is a nice story, and there's not much I can say that has not already been said. It's not hard to see why Mr. Clarke is so well-regarded in science fiction, I enjoyed this novel as it was one of my favorite sub-genres (dying earth) and the perspectives and possibilities between the Lassans and the travelers, it really opens into some nice food for thought for the reader. ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Why is the universe here?” “Where else would it be?”

This is why Arthur C. Clarke is thought of as among the Big Three of science fiction. This novel was written in the 1980s, based on a short story originally written in 1957. Don’t read the blurbs; they’re both misleading and spoilers. Too many topics to comment on or even lift his quotes about, but Clark still manages to insert an engaging story.

“No serious philosophical problem is ever settled.”

Golden Age science fiction. In many ways Clark i
I picked this book as an introduction to Sir Arthur C Clarke because a) It is not a series b) Wiki says that it's the author's favourite. I had high expectation and honestly a little bit scared that I would be a convert, that I would prefer him than my current favourite of the big three, Isaac Asimov (I haven't read any of Heinlein's books).

And I was no traitor. Until half of the book I was the loyal Asimov fan. It was not bad, it just seemed ordinary. It made me wonder whether I should have gon
Donna Craig
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick, interesting read. However,I didn’t connect with the characters. I seem to have this problem with many books written by male authors, especially in sci-if that isn’t new. Certainly, I’ve connected deeply with the characters in books by some male authors; I’m just saying the lack of connection isn’t uncommon for me when I read male authors. Does that make sense? Anyhow, I certainly wasn’t ever tempted to put the book aside. I liked it.
I must say that although I am a fan of Arthur C. Clarke, this book was a disappointment. While it did have intriguing plot points, it cannot be said to be a meaty or particularly incisive novel.

First, its strengths. As with all of Clarke's works that I have read, he is a master at balancing hard sci-fi with elegant prose, kneading the science into his stories rather than shoving lumps of scientific exposition in as needed. In other words, although his novels include thought experiments, they can
Excellent science fiction by Arthur C. Clarke, rightly considered on of the grand masters of the genre. I have always admired the simplicity of Clarke's writing: he is almost like Hemingway in how sparse and simple his language is, yet he manages to tackle the most profound questions facing humanity with simplicity and clarity. He is the opposite of Ray Bradbury (who I also love): there is nary a figure of speech to be found in Clarke's writing, yet he still manages to stimulate my mind and imag ...more
Doug Armstrong
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the only sci-fi books I've ever read twice. This book is a great example of hard sci-f-- the characters are all basically ancillary to exploring and explaining the central premise of colonizing other planets in a future where the sun goes nova in about 1600 years from now. Arthur C Clarke has an amazing way of picking one technology that is so far beyond what we have that it might seem impossible, but explaining it in such detail that it becomes totally plausible, and making that the one ...more
David Nichols
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, reviewed
SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH was one of the last stand-alone novels that Arthur C. Clarke wrote before he decided to focus, in the final years of his career, on sequels and collaborations. The novel's central concept, which Alastair Reynolds and Charles Stross have recently employed with even greater success, is a respectable one: imagine an interstellar civilization bound by the laws of modern physics (i.e. no faster-than-light-travel) and by the likelihood that there are no spacefaring alien races a ...more
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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

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