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Terraforming Earth [Hardcover]

Jack Williamson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 6 2001
When a giant meteor crashes into the earth and destroys all life, the small group of human survivors manage to leave the barren planet and establish a new home on the moon. From Tycho Base, men and woman are able to observe the devastated planet and wait for a time when return will become possible.

Generations pass. Cloned children have had children of their own, and their eyes are raised toward the giant planet in the sky which long ago was the cradle of humanity. Finally, after millennia of waiting, the descendants of the original refugees travel back to a planet they've never known, to try and rebuild a civilization of which they've never been a part.

The fate of the earth lies in the success of their return, but after so much time, the question is not whether they can rebuild an old destroyed home, but whether they can learn to inhabit an alien new world--Earth.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The OED credits SF Grand Master Williamson (The Humanoids; The Legion of Time; Drago's Island; Darker Than You Think) for coining the term "terraforming" (in his 1942 novel, Seetee Ship) to describe an alien world altered for human habitation. With the terraforming of Earth itself, the original concept now gets an oblique and awesome twist well over half a century later. Williamson's skill at speculative fiction is once again evident in this far-future saga of mankind's destiny, previously serialized in Analog and Science Fiction Age. Driven by the potential threat of asteroids, wealthy eccentric Calvin DeFort set up a robot-run moonbase, Tycho Station, with frozen tissue specimens of plant and animal life. The value of this "safety net for Earth" becomes evident when a devastating asteroid impact brings a new Ice Age. Eventually, clones of the few survivors study their past history and train to reseed the planet by sowing the scarred surface with life-bombs. Bringing the gift of life, biologist Tanya and pilot Pepe are rewarded with death in the hostile environment. A million years later, more clones continue the mission. Earth evolves. A new civilization arises and crumbles. Generations of clones march through the millennia, continuing to examine the planet's riddles and ever-changing enigmas, even as Earth is on the ascendant. Throughout, poetic undercurrents permeate this masterful work by a superb chronicler of the cosmic. (July 16)Forecast: Over the decades Williamson has collected legions of fans (he published his first SF, the short story "The Metal Man," in 1928). Positive reviews plus word-of-mouth will send these loyal readers into bookstores in search of this imaginative foray into the future.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

From their home on the moon's Tycho Base, a group of clones descendants of the last humans to survive a cataclysmic asteroid impact that destroyed life on Earth view their ancestors' home and anticipate their duties to begin life again on the planet their species once called home. This latest novel by the grand old man of sf (his career began in 1928!) uses a timely theme the collision of a killer asteroid with Earth as a springboard for exploring the far-reaching consequences of such a disaster, both for Earth and for any survivors. Fans of hard science and old-fashioned sf adventure should enjoy this vividly imagined tale of life at the far end of time. For most sf collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Something lost in the cloning process Sept. 19 2003
By S. PRUS
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Williamson's characters seem incapable of judgment, generation after generation. I found their lack of common sense utterly frustrating. Led by the author's drive to embroil them in poetic and melancholy disaster, they are never allowed to exercise a maturity beyond the level of impetuous children.
Despite his agile prose, imaginative flair, and high concept, his book fails utterly at the one crucial place where a story should connect with its reader - at the human level: Do we relate to these people, are they like us? In their place, what would we do? What does each say about us all?
Over the thousands of years and multiple iterations of the same characters, stupidity seems to be a mathematical constant: every spaceflight turns to disaster for want of fuel, every safari ends in what appears a wasteful and pathetic death, every first contact in enslavement, and always due to a lack of preparation an planning easily evident to a reasonable person.
Essentially, his puppet characters simplify his narrative task by remaining incapable of using their reason, holding their tongues, and exercising a free will that would exercise caution when faced with risk. This allows Mr. Williamson to follow his muse: Their foolishness propels the narrative and opens vistas, but rings false.
Has wisdom, thought and will been bred out of these carousel horses, or does Mr. Williamson simply not care about them?
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2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but nothing new Sept. 16 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is a fairly entertaining book. However the plot is very similar to the plot in Stephen Baxter's "Space". The basis for the plot is, however, so much more solid in Baxter's book.
The ending of the book is very abrupt. It seems like Williamson runs out of ideas, and hurrily tries to gather his stuff and leave.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment from a Grand Master May 6 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is really four novelettes retrofitted around "The Ultimate Earth," a novelette which (inexplicably) won all sorts of awards. Like a lot of "novels" that are jury-rigged around extended short stories, this one has all the weaknesses and few of the strengths that other such novels have. (The best novel of this kind is Fred Pohl's Years of the City, a clear masterpiece.) I found the only good section of this book to be the first. It sets up a remarkable premise and sets about unfolding it rather well. But by the time the book ends, you really don't know who is who and the far future earth seems more like modern-day Africa. Not a single imaginative trope in sight.
This would be an excellent first book, however. Unfortunately, it isn't. The five star ratings this book has received clearly are given to the man and not the work. This isn't a good place to start with one's reading of Jack Williamson.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Plot Oct. 9 2002
Format:Hardcover
Terraforming Earth is a first person perspective story about what happens in the long run after a major collision with Earth. The original plot is very interesting and it keeps you turning the pages to see what will happen. The main characters each have their own personalities and every time they are reborn they follow their same path with a few different variations each time. The new characters who are added into the story later in the book help keep the story from getting boring.
Jack Williamson still has creative ideas even as he is getting older. He changes the direction of the story it seems in the middle and a few times later so that it doesn't get too repetitive. You start to really like a few of the characters and hate a few of the others. I rarely like any books that are first person perspective but this book protrayed the story as if the narrator was indifferent to what was happening. He just told it like it was instead of bogging the story down with his thoughts and emotions. It did not get a five star because some of the story seemed very pointless and the ending was kind of weird. But the story keeps you anxious to see what will happen from their actions when they are born again.
Bottom line- Good plot but a little repetitive although the repetition is what makes it interesting. Four stars.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner... March 16 2002
Format:Hardcover
I read this book in one sitting. Sadly, not because it was so good, but because I read page after page hoping the book would live up to the promise of the topic and of the author's name.
It didn't. Had the book come from any "lesser" author, I would have settled for 3 stars. But coming from Williamson it was such a let-down I can only give it 1 star.
The characters were unlikeable, indecisive caricatures.
- The perky Hispanic pilot/engineer stereotype who drops some Spanish exclamation more often than Scotty saying "the engines cannae tek it, cap'n". Asexual it seems, or such a sideshow token that the author doesn't care whether he has a love life or not.
- The domineering bully Teuton/Norse who really is a coward - and yet always attracts the girls and becomes the alpha-male. Being German myself this pathetic cartoon really grated.
- The intelligent can-do Asian scientist woman who just can't help herself falling for the Germanic guy above. Or declaring her love for the narrator, but still jumping into bed with alpha-hombre (no not the Hispanic guy)
- The dreamy librarian girl, unattractive and caring only for her books. But she often as not ends up in a menage a troi with the previous two.
- The Asian-African-American who forces himself on to the crew to escape the original Armageddon with his girlfriend. Probably the most likeable of the unlikeable bunch, though his obsession with his girlfriend takes on "Jungian archetype" elements in the way he nearly deifies her. (and the books ending doesn't help that one bit).
- His girlfriend, the goddess-whore stereotype. Saint Mary Magdalene. Nuff said.
- And finally, our narrator, who never seems to DO anything.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story by a science fiction Grand Master
The basic plot: An eccentric billionaire wants to build a base on the Moon to safeguard mankind's science/culture in case of a meteor strike. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2002 by D. Hern
4.0 out of 5 stars stokes my imagination!
Far, far in the future, long after the catastrophic impact of a huge meteor, the cloned children of humanity's last people who had escaped by establishing a safe harbor on the... Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2001 by Rebecca Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Read
Terraforming Earth is a remarkable read. The imagination behind it is stunning in its scope. Williamson is a very generous writer. Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2001 by Marian Powell
3.0 out of 5 stars A quick, easy read (and not too filling!)
Two things prompted me to check out this book: (1) The cool cover -- I'm a sucker for good sci-fi artwork. (2) The jacket notes -- I'm also a sucker for post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by C. ANZIULEWICZ
5.0 out of 5 stars none
I honestly believe that in the not-too-distant future science fiction will be defined by just one name: Jack Williamson, "Terraforming Earth" is a fantastic, engaging,... Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2001 by Gary S. Potter
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, BUT .....
This was a wonderful and fast read. But there were a few minor problems that I had with it.
Granted that the main characters are clones who are repeatedly "brought... Read more
Published on July 18 2001 by Sarethi
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting sf thriller
In one catastrophic hit, four billion years of evolution and growth are erased. A century has passed since the asteroid crashed into earth eradicating just about every living... Read more
Published on June 23 2001 by Harriet Klausner
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