Terraforming Earth Hardcover – Jul 6 2001
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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?
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.
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.Read more ›
Over the course of time, these people are periodically cloned from their own tissue samples. They mission is to make the Earth livable again. To terraform Earth.
The story is told through the eyes of Duncan, who is the historian of the group. The children are raised on the moon and told that it is their duty to watch over Earth. Each generation of clones studies the writings and recordings of the "siblings" who have gone before to the point that these records seem like part of their own memories.
The book spans millions of years. Some groups of clones are successful, some are not. This is a story not only of the evolution of Earth, but the evolution of the species as well.
This book would make a great introduction to scifi for anyone new to the genre. The plot is character-driven and unique. There's a refreshing lack of techno-speak. All in all, a very accessible work. Great for newcomers and long-time fans alike.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a fairly entertaining book. However the plot is very similar to the plot in Stephen Baxter's "Space". Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2003 by Roald Andresen
This book is really four novelettes retrofitted around "The Ultimate Earth," a novelette which (inexplicably) won all sorts of awards. Read morePublished on May 6 2003
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 morePublished on Nov. 21 2001 by Rebecca Brown
Terraforming Earth is a remarkable read. The imagination behind it is stunning in its scope. Williamson is a very generous writer. Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2001 by Marian Powell
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 morePublished on Aug. 31 2001 by C. ANZIULEWICZ
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 morePublished on Aug. 11 2001 by Gary S. Potter
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