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Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Kate Wilhelm wrote this post-apocalyptic novel in 1974 which probably explains the title. There was a vogue for anastrophe back then, this one's a quote from Sonnet 73 about old age, something which faces humanity in this novel. It's fairly short and focuses on the lives of generations of a family who saw the writing on the wall and prepared for the inevitable. In many ways it's reminiscent of Oryx and Crake as it tackles the idea of what it is to be human, also with the emphasis on the scientific creation of people. It's also an American cosy catastrophe, the end is distant from the protagonists and quiet, with many Wyndham tropes although pushed in different directions.

It's one of those books that get close to some of the characters but always maintains a certain distance and so can appear cold. It certainly seemed dispassionate. Nevertheless I enjoyed it and it was a worthy winner of the Hugo in 1977.

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