Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Songs of a Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clark

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 Thallassa and overwhelmed by its vast resources, the colonists lived an idyllic existence,unaware of the monumental evolutionary event slowly taking place beneath their seas....
The the Magellan arrived in orbit carrying one million refugees from the last,mad days on Earth. And suddenly uncertainty and change had come to the placid paradise that was Thallassa.

Expectation: The Magellan arrives in the very first chapter, so I'd  already speculated and anticipated what would happen. The Lassans thought the Magellan  was carrying aliens or another robots seeding ship. I expected some form of trouble, disagreement, discomfort maybe from the Lassans. But Thallassa is a paradise and the people are almost perfect and objective and welcoming A perfect society.

In the very first chapter we meet Kumar,Brandt and Merrissa. They are from Thallassa and see the ship fly over . It's not easy to connect with any of the characters (at first). They're neither likable or unlikable. The Lassans are all so objective and easy going. Later on the characters get more form . Mayor Waldor was annoying , she's so irritating. Kaldor (from Magellan) is an interesting character , he keeps having conversations (in his mind) with his dead wife( to keep her memory alive).

Lassan society: 
This is a society founded by robot seeding ships. The people have access to information to earth, but censored information. Even books have been censored, anything indicating religion or anything spiritual has been removed. Thereby creating a society without the idea of God. A (almost) perfect and peaceful society, which leaves the question .is that good or bad?

Even the people in the story, the Lassan or the last people from Earth (Magellan) are from a furturistic generation. From  a different earth/millennium then the current one. Which again makes it hard to relate to them. They have another view of earth and are so objective but still just people.

The book succeeds in making you think and it fascinates you. and scares you. Do we even care about the people from the next millennium? about the the state we leave the planet in for them? Clearly by the state of things now, we don't. or we're making a half-ass attempt.

Some of the people from Magellan wanted so stay on Thallassa (only a small few) . I though there was going to be a mutiny (love this word) but no, they just brought some scientific interrogator out of his frozen sleep. Odd man and his methods of interrogation was interesting and surprisingly nonviolent.  After the interrogation he went and read a Sherlock Holmes story.

Although the book didn't exceed my expectations it's still a good read, there are some scientific stuff in it that has eluded my understanding. This in no way devalues  the book, it's written really wel, the chapters are short and have nice titles. The writing flows so it's not bland.

There was one thing that intrigued me an unanswered question. I googled and found somebody else had asked the same question:

In chapter 51 (Relic) Moses Kaldor gives to Mirissa Leonidas a gift: a gold, gleaming bell that was the model of a temple. Inside it was:
"(...) All that's left of one of the greatest men who ever lived; he founded the only faith that never became stained with blood. I'm sure he would have been most amused to know that, forty centuries after his death, one of his teeth would be carried to the stars." 
What man and what faith was Clarke refering to here?

Exactly, what man founded the only faith that never became stained with blood???

Apparently the answer is Buddhism. I guess that makes sense. Is it the correct answer? how did they get his teeth? or is it his teeth? one question leads to another


Question/answer form



  1. I love the word 'mutiny' too. LOL. That book sounds very intense, what with the robots and religious issues. :) awesome review!!

    1. but that's the problem there weren't any robots OR religious issues. There wasn't really any action.But it's still a god book

  2. LOL!!! What? NO robots!?? :P Hope you enjoy the Hunger games series, btw. :)

  3. I wondered about this myself. Look like Clark was referring to this teeth:

    1. Thank you! , I never knew about that.
      It's very fascinating though. "A belief grew that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a divine right to rule that land." Maybe that's why it was in the story.



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