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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate…
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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976)

by Kate Wilhelm

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,443558,414 (3.84)105
When the first warm breeze of Doomsday came wafting over the Shenandoah Valley, the Sumners were ready. Using their enormous wealth, the family had forged an isolated post holocaust citadel. Their descendants would have everything they needed to raise food and do the scientific research necessary for survival. But the family was soon plagued by sterility, and the creation of clones offered the only answer. And that final pocket of human civilization lost the very human spirit it was meant to preserve as man and mannequin turned on one another. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity and rigorous in its science, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is widely regarded as a high point of both humanistic and hard science fiction. It won science fiction's Hugo Award and Locus Award on its first publication and is as compelling today as it was then.… (more)
  1. 31
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (rat_in_a_cage)
    rat_in_a_cage: Hinweis auf Rückentext bei »Hier sangen früher Vögel«.
  2. 10
    The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett (LamontCranston)
  3. 10
    The World Inside by Robert Silverberg (gaialover)
    gaialover: Dystopian society with controls against individualism and mandated polyamory.
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» See also 105 mentions

English (54)  Spanish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I loved this book so much, the last line actually had me giddy. There's three parts to this, and each was fully worth 5 stars in their own right. The characters were multi-layered and interesting, and Wilhelm did an amazing job in making you care about them, so that when something bad happened you actually felt it.

And the plot was simply amazing. Unique, and clever, and makes you ask questions about what it means to be human, and how important the individual is when the fate of the entire community is on the line.

I can't wait to trawl through the rest of this author's work. ( )
  Fardo | Oct 15, 2019 |
Where to start about this book? First, its prediction of the “end of the world” is so close to our current issue with Global Warming and Climate Change, it is almost terrifying.
But the real cleverness in this book is the characters and the idea these grapple with – how much would one sacrifice to see the human race survive? And what is the balance between self and community?
The book is divided into three parts. The first concerns the beginning, when the last humans created the clones. The middle tells what happens when the clones inadvertently trigger the individuality that had been buried in them. And the last section, what happens when a true individual gets tossed into a community of clones.
It’s hard to explain why this book is so good. But the characters are what compel the story forward. It is the characters, rich and complex, that snares the reader and drags them into the story, only to let one surface at the end.
For anyone who wants a truly great science fiction read, this is it! ( )
  empress8411 | Mar 21, 2019 |
The story is haunting, but ultimately fell flat for me. I liked the premise. The dated aspects didn't get in the way for me. However, the characters seemed thin, and I felt like the story didn't deliver on its promise. There was something deflating and unsatisfying about the book. ( )
  zilem | Jan 25, 2019 |
This book starts with an environmental apocalypse. Due to radiation and other environmental issues, humanity and animals are becoming infertile and crop failures are causing famines. The rest of the book is about how a group of survivors try to ensure humanity’s survival, and the consequences of their chosen method. Since this book is so short I hate to give away many details and spoil the discovery of reading it for oneself, but I’ll put a more tangible explanation of what the book is about within the spoiler tags. Cloning, not just of livestock but also of humans. The idea is that, after a certain number of clones, fertility will start to increase again to the point that natural births will be a viable lifestyle again. However, the clones see their reproductive method as an improvement and have different ideas, and there are a lot more of them than there are of the original humans.

I liked the story, but I also grew restless with it pretty often and I took more breaks from reading than I typically do. It isn’t slow-paced, though; it covers a lot of ground in a short, 250-page book. I wouldn’t have minded a little more detail, but I think we were told enough to convey the important parts of the story. The author uses the third-person omniscient perspective, especially in the second and third parts of the book. That’s the only type of perspective that really bothers me when I encounter it, although I did eventually adjust to it. It did simplify things a bit to know what everybody was thinking at the moment it was relevant. I expect it wouldn’t bother me as much if I encountered it more often because I would be more used to it, but it just feels wrong to me to hop heads so frequently even when it’s perfectly clear whose head I’m in.

This book was published in 1976 and it had a very 60ish “free love” type of feel to it. Nothing is described graphically or in any detail except maybe in one spot, but there are many casual mentions of everybody having sex with everybody, usually in groups. It fits fairly well into the story and the society portrayed, but might be off-putting to some.

I’m not very strong in the natural sciences, but the science presented in this book felt a little hand-wavey to me. I was skeptical as to how realistic it was even for the time when it was published, but I was mostly able to just accept it as a vehicle for the author’s story. I did occasionally get pulled out of the story by some of the psychological aspects that seemed a little too extreme to be realistic.

There are some interesting ideas here, and the story is told well. If I were being more objective I would probably give this 3.5 stars, but my subjective enjoyment level stayed around 3 stars and that’s what takes priority for me when I rate a book. ( )
  YouKneeK | Dec 25, 2018 |
Great story, I was very impressed that this was first published in 1974 because it could have been written today. The book looks at three generations of a family in the mountains of western Virginia: first, those who built the survivalist camp when they recognized how the rest of the world was about to end; second, the society of clones that followed the originals; third a son of two clones who strikes out on his own. ( )
  Pferdina | Jul 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Mit großem erzählerischem Talent gelingt Kate Wilhelm eine glaubwürdige und spannende Dystopie, die völlig zu Recht zu den Klassikern der Science Fiction Literatur gezählt wird.
 
Fabulous story, deep thoughts cleverly disguised by amazing character development.
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilhelm, Kateprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chong, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Escher, M. C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahlow, RenéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrill, RowenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sargent, PamelaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, KarelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuttle, LisaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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For Valerie, Kris, and Leslie, with love
Für Valerie,
Kris und Leslie,
in Liebe
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What David always hated most about the Sumner family dinners was the way everyone talked about him as if he were not there.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
In der zeitlosen Periode wurde das Leben selbst das Ziel, nicht die Wiederbeschaffung der Vergangenheit oder die raffinierte Planung der Zukunft.
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