Friday, January 6, 2012

The Songs Of A Distant Earth

Here are some images plus a composite of my scratch built model of the Colony Ship Magellan based off of Philippe Bouchet AKA "Manchu" illustration art for Arthur C Clarke's "The Songs Of A Distant Earth".

From Wikipedia"

The novel is set in the early 3800s and takes place almost entirely on the faraway oceanic planet of Thalassa. Thalassa has a small human population sent there by way of an embryonic seed pod, one of many sent out from Earth in an attempt to continue the human race's existence before the Earth is destroyed.

It starts with an introduction to the native Thalassans – the marine biologist Mirissa, her partner Brant and other friends and family. Their peaceful existence comes to an end with the appearance of the Magellan, a spaceship from Earth containing one million colonists who have been put into cryonic suspension.

In a series of descriptive passages the events leading up to the race to save the human species are explained. Scientists in the 1960s discover that the neutrino emissions from the Sun – a result of the nuclear reactions that fuel the star – are far diminished from expected levels. Less than a decade later, it is confirmed that the problem is not with the scientific equipment: the Sun is calculated to go nova around the year AD 3600.

The human race's technology advances enough for various factions to send out pods containing human and other mammalian embryos (and later on, simply stored DNA sequences), along with robot parents, to planets that are considered habitable. Sending live humans is ruled out due to the immense amount of fuel that a rocket-propelled spacecraft would have to carry in order to first accelerate to the speeds required to travel such great distances within an acceptable time, and then decelerate upon approaching the destination. However, less than a hundred years before the Sun is set to go nova a scientific break-through allows construction of the quantum drive, which bypasses this problem. There only remains enough time to build and send to the stars a single quantum-drive ship: the Magellan.

Thalassa's only connection with Earth (and anywhere else) was a single communication dish, which was destroyed during a volcanic eruption 400 years ago and never repaired, thus leaving the Thalassans unaware of later developments on Earth. The Magellan stops at Thalassa to replenish the mammoth ice shield that had prevented micrometeors from damaging it during its interstellar journey. Thalassa is the obvious choice for this operation, as 95% of the planet's surface is covered by water. At the end of the novel the Magellan continues on to its destination, the planet Sagan 2.

As a kind of sub-plot it is revealed that beneath Thalassa's oceans there live sentient beings similar to the sea scorpions of Earth, only much larger. They are discovered – and named Scorps – when it attracts attention that robots designed to seek out fish frequently go missing. The Scorps gain the robots' metal in order to make bands of honour and rank. The Scorps are proven farmers; they have created their own village out of underwater rock caves.

Some of the crew aboard the Magellan begin to consider mutiny, wanting to stay in the secure environment of Thalassa rather than make the journey on to an unknown planet that may indeed be habitable, but just as well not. The situation is solved just before take-off – the mutineers are left with the Thalassans, while the bulk of the crew and passengers continue on to Sagan 2.

The book finishes with Mirissa sending messages to her lover, Loren Lorenson aboard the Magellan, showing him their son. Loren is not going to see the child until long after its and Mirissa's death. Mirissa's last clear sight when she is old is of the fading star in the Thalassan sky that is the Quantum drive of the Magellan.


Hanny said...

Damn! That sounds like a great story. I'll have to pick that book up.

Warren Zoell said...

LOL!! I haven't read it either.

hubert said...

fantastic collection of beautifully made and so varied models. bravo!

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks Hubert. It helps keep it interesting.

Manchu said...

Cool !!
Belle interprétation de l'illustration :)
C'est amusant car je viens de terminer les plans pour réaliser aussi ce vaisseau en scratch !

Warren Zoell said...

Merci - Je ne peux pas attendre pour voir la vôtre.

Pat Tillett said...

I think I'm gonna have to read that novel. I've never heard of it.
This is an awesome build Warren!

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks Pat - I'll have to read it as well.

sinewalker said...

One of my favourite ACC novels, and also Mike Oldfield albums. It would make a great movie. This image and model are awesome.

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks sinewalker!

Herberti said...

Prezados. Parabéns pelo trabalho. só quero fazer algumas observações e deixar uma sugestão. O modelo é interessante, mas considerando o texto da estória nada há nele que sugira a existência de uma seção distinta do corpo principal da Magalhães. Aparentemente a nave é básica e unicamente um cilindro, e no modelo hã uma estrutura à ré fazendo as vezes de motor. Aqueles detalhes que representam janelas estão fora de escala. Se a Magalhães tem aproximadamente 1 km de diâmetro elas apareceriam apenas como pontos minúsculos, ajuntados em um padrão irregular ao longo do casco, e não grandes e regulares como se vê. Quanto ao escudo de gelo está perfeito. A sugestão é para fazerem um modelo do veículo Kon-Tiki, que é descrito no conto "Encontro com Medusa", um dos mais premiados de Arthur Clarke. No mais, Felicidades.

Warren Zoell said...

Herberti - Embora eu tenho certeza que o que você diz é correto, eu simplesmente construiu este modelo baseado fora da maravilhosa obra de Philippe Bouchet AKA "Manchu".

Anonymous said...

In the original 1958 short story version of it, the Magellan is a 4 kilometers long ship. It is curvy, but it is not revealed on whether or not it is a long cylinder. Its ice shield is put around 1 kilometer ahead of the ship. In short, if the 3D model was adapted into the short story version, the ice shield should be more further away.

The original short story version of the novel is less politically preachy; the novel version had more 'a message from our sponsor', it has less actual Clarke materials in it. The short story potrays Thalassa as an ordinary remote colony rarely visited by ships from Earth, and the Magellan is just an ordinary ship that got stranded there due the damage to its ice shield.

However the short story sounded like something out of a shoujo manga, with Lora as the lead female protagonist. Most of the story focused on Lora and from Lora's point of view. The characters seem to be more human in the short story version. Lora despite her ease of abandoning and then reuniting with Clyde, is actually quite a girlish character. The story feels like Lancelot (Leon) and Elaine of Astolat (Lora).

TMS Entertainment (a.k.a. SEGA) maybe should develop their own version of the story, preferably aimed toward tweens. It could be a short animated feature. Perharps as part of their 'Storybook series'.

Warren Zoell said...

Thanks Anonymous for the info. I'm sure you're correct.

Anonymous said...

That's what I read in the short story version anyway. Thanks for reading the comment.

The arrangement of the Magellan and its ice shield is like this:
[4 km Magellan][1 km buffer zone][Ice shield]

They don't exactly say on what is in the buffer zone. Empty space? Suspension rods connected to the Magellan? All they said is "we carry a shield about a kilometre ahead of us, and let that get burned up instead."

The size of the shield is also not explained.

If the Magellan's propulsion can be turned around, then the shield's size doesn't need to be quite wide. If the Magellan's propulsion can NOT be turned around, then they need turn it around 180 degrees, and the shield needs to be around over 4 km wide to accomodate the 4 km long Magellan.

Nevertheless, the 3D model is still a nice artwork.