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Q: TItle of Sci-Fi book ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: TItle of Sci-Fi book
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: richardmtl-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 07 Aug 2006 11:19 PDT
Expires: 06 Sep 2006 11:19 PDT
Question ID: 753474

Several years ago, I read a sci-fi book that dealt with a planet that
was populated with (possibly ant-like) sentient beings. The book was
the story of the development of science on their planet, through their
"renaissance" era, to modern times. Unfortunately for our ant-like
creatures, their sun was slowly growing, or preparing to go supernova,
or something similarly disasterous. The title was MAYBE something
along the lines of "Cities in the sky", because I think they
eventually evacuated their planet on massive city-like starships. It
was definitely written before 1996 (I read it in either 94, 95 or 96),
but is possibly from the 1980's. Can someone find it for me?
Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 07 Aug 2006 18:22 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I'm delighted to have been able to help you identify your book as John
Brunner's "The Crucible of Time." Your descriptions were excellent,
and were very helpful in my search.

Since I read a lot of science fiction, I can sometimes recognize a
book by its description. This time, however, I had to rely on Google
to track down the answer. As it turned out, this was a book I haven't
read, so I would never have guessed it without help!

This is the combination of search terms that led me to "The Crucible of Time":

Google Web Search: alien world scientist OR scientists "their planet"

The search string mentioned above brought many results, among which
was this page, from SF Reviews:

SF REviews: The Crucible of Time

So, armed with this clue, I browsed around the Web to see what I could
learn about "The Crucible of Time." One of the users' comments on
Amazon sounded very much like the kind of plot that you described:

"On another world very much like ours, people deal with various
problems in several distinct ages. The characters are genuinely
likeable and even heroic. You kind of forget they're bugs, mostly.
There is almost a renaissance flavor to one of the periods."

Amazon: The Crucible of Time

This review, which I found in a newsgroup, provides quite a bit of detail:

Net.books newsgroup: book review by Evelyn C. Leeper 

This was an interesting quest, and now I have another book on my list
of "Stuff I Must Read When I Have the Time."

Very best regards,
richardmtl-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Thank you, pinkfreud! You have found the magic key, the hidden door,
that I have been looking for for 3 years now, and within a matter of
hours! You're wonderful!

Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
From: pinkfreud-ga on 07 Aug 2006 13:03 PDT
H.G. Wells's "The First Men in the Moon" has alien beings called
Selenites who are somewhat antlike:

"The Selenites I saw resembled man in maintaining the erect attitude,
and in having four limbs, and I have compared the general appearance
of their heads and the jointing of their limbs to that of insects. I
have mentioned, too, the peculiar consequence of the smaller
gravitation of the moon on their fragile slightness. Cavor confirms me
upon all these points. He calls them 'animals,' though of course they
fall under no division of the classification of earthly creatures, and
he points out 'the insect type of anatomy had, fortunately for men,
never exceeded a relatively very small size on earth.' The largest
terrestrial insects, living or extinct, do not, as a matter of fact,
measure 6 in. in length; 'but here, against the lesser gravitation of
the moon, a creature certainly as much an insect as vertebrate seems
to have been able to attain to human and ultra-human dimensions.'

He does not mention the ant, but throughout his allusions the ant is
continually being brought before my mind, in its sleepless activity,
in its intelligence and social organisation, in its structure, and
more particularly in the fact that it displays, in addition to the two
forms, the male and the female form, that almost all other animals
possess, a number of other sexless creatures, workers, soldiers, and
the like, differing from one another in structure, character, power,
and use, and yet all members of the same species. For these Selenites,
also, have a great variety of forms. Of course, they are not only
colossally greater in size than ants, but also, in Cavor's opinion at
least, in intelligence, morality, and social wisdom are they
colossally greater than men. "
Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
From: richardmtl-ga on 07 Aug 2006 13:26 PDT
Thanks but no, pinkfreud. The story was told from the point of view of
different "historical figures" of these creatures. Maybe they weren't
ant-like, I might be wrong about that, but they definitely were not
human-like. Each chapter/section was from the point of view of figures
such as a "Galileo/Copernicus" figure, who used a telescope, a
"Newton" figure who "discovered" gravity, and others that I don't
remember. Also, other creatures didn't believe those who said that the
planet was warming and that the sun was slowly growing, until it was
almost too late (rising cancer rates are one warning-sign I remember).
Hope this helps a bit more!
Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
From: pinkfreud-ga on 07 Aug 2006 13:34 PDT
How about John Brunner's "The Crucible of Time"?
Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
From: pinkfreud-ga on 07 Aug 2006 13:36 PDT
"The Crucible of Time, a multi-generation saga, describes the
development of science, quite different to our own, on another plant
whose inhabitants are fired by the belief that they must leave their
planet or perish."
Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
From: richardmtl-ga on 07 Aug 2006 17:55 PDT
You got it! Post an answer with search terms, please!

As per the review, not a great book, but I have warm memories of
enjoying it in high school. Thanks, pinkfreud!
Subject: Re: TItle of Sci-Fi book
From: pinkfreud-ga on 08 Aug 2006 10:10 PDT
Thank you very much for the five stars and the nice tip!


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