In fact, Clarke writes SO convincingly, that you can easily believe you are reading a factual account rather that a hugely imaginative work of fiction.
With this novel there is an additional dimension.
Sure, it is there in his other novels, in the same way the emotion is with our every living moment. But this book is genuinely moving as it tells the tale of two cultures meeting and overlapping. It tells of love and loss, of heartache and tragedy, but without ever ceasing to be a ripping good yarn.
The pages skip by - it can be read in a few hours - but its memory will linger. And for me it is one of those few books that I will recommend to others without any reservations.
It is impossible to pick a single one of Clarke's novels as his best, but Songs of Distant Earth is guaranteed a place in any shortlist.
This then is no fantasy. It is hard sci-fi, extrapolating current knowledge and not violating known boundaries. Arthur C. Clarke is reassuringly solid with his science, inspiringly bold with his vision, thrillingly readable with his portrayal of passion and human interactions.
The vision here is not quite as far-reaching as in the Rama stories, but in some ways even more fascinating because of its greater realism. The immediate impact is not as stunning as in 'The Trigger', but the scope is so much grander. The short story version can be found in 'The Sentinel', which is a superb and memorable collection.
The story follows from the end of Earth and the solar system in AD 3620, when the Sun goes supernova. By then some of the interstellar spaceships launched 1200 years ago have fulfilled their mission of establishing human colonies beyond the reach of the exploding sun. Thalassa is one such.
Thalassians are gentle people, possessing technology but not slaves to it. Their world consists of three small islands. Oceans cover the rest of their planet. Theirs is a society free of guilt, violence and jealousy. Theirs is a lifestyle full of passion and zest for life, full of calmness and poise, free of selfish corruption or hateful bigotry. The worst disaster to strike them in their 700 years of history was the eruption of Krakan, the local volcano.
Mirissa, her lover Brant and brother Kumar were out fishing, when "the simple, carefree world they had known all their young lives came abruptly to an end." Starship Magellan had arrived after its 300 yearlong journey, started as the Earth was about to be vaporised. Its Quantum drive lit up Thalassa's sky, brighter than any comet could. Moses Kaldor, worthy ambassador, meets the Thalassans to negotiate a brief stay to enable the Magellan reach her destination; a further 50 light years and 300 earth years away. Of the 161 crew awakened from deep interstellar sleep, many form relationships with Thalassans. Some see no point in parting from their new love, and leaving this ideal world for an uncertain one that they may never reach. One such is Lieutenant Owen Fletcher, entrusted with assembling the shield that will protect Magellan from deadly interstellar dust. His plan is to abort the mission, by persuasion if possible, sabotage if necessary.
Will he succeed? Will Captain Bey be able to avoid mutiny? Will the million survivors from Earth overwhelm the 560 Thalassans, when they are awakened from their deep slumber?
Read this fascinating tale and find out.
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions