adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B0821SC3ZP
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B0821SC3ZP

Try our newest plan – unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
$7.95 a month after 30 day trial. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
Buy for $20.97

Buy for $20.97

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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 then 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.

©1976 Kate Wilhelm (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award winner, Best Novel, 1977

"The best novel about cloning written to date." (Locus)
"One of the best treatments of cloning in SF." (New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)
"Kate Wilhelm's cautionary message comes through loud and clear." (New York Times)

What listeners say about Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    199
  • 4 Stars
    143
  • 3 Stars
    83
  • 2 Stars
    38
  • 1 Stars
    15
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    153
  • 4 Stars
    117
  • 3 Stars
    50
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    11
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    148
  • 4 Stars
    95
  • 3 Stars
    57
  • 2 Stars
    22
  • 1 Stars
    13

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great read!

I loved this book. Kate Wilhelm writes a very readable book and Anna Fields (aka Kate Fleming, recently deceased and a great loss to audio) does a great job narrating. Considering the story won a Hugo back in the mid-70s, the theme (human caused environmental disaster and cloning) is current and relevant. If you're looking for a good story to get lost in for a few hours and you like sci fi, this book is worth your time.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

As Relevant As Ever

It's a testament to the strength of Kate Wilhelm's grasp of "hard" science and the subtlety of her grasp of human nature that this 1977 science fiction novel (winner of the Hugo Award) is as relevant today as when she wrote it. It easily could have been published yesterday.

The novel follows an extended family as they retreat from society to survive a global meltdown (economic, environmental, topped off by a nuclear holocaust). Led by far-sighted leaders and gifted scientists, they seek to preserve their line through an extended experiment in cloning. The result is more Village of the Damned than Paradise, as a new "breed" of people -- intelligent but unimaginative, forming brother and sister groups that share a common mind and experience -- inherit (or take over?) the community. The story follows several generations, ending with the struggle of the lone individual against the dystopian community, with the stakes being both the survival and the very nature of the human species.

The premise of this novel and its execution are fascinating, and I was most interested to see how the generational struggles would resolve themselves. For some reason I can't quite pin down, I never felt fully emotionally engaged with most of the characters, and the one who evoked my empathy most had a truncated role in the novel. In other words, this novel always had my mind, but it never quite captured my heart completely, as well. Despite being held somewhat at arm's length from the characters (which may indeed be intentional, given the nature of the characters themselves), I highly recommend it, and I'm glad I read it. It's considered a classic for good reason, and I'm richer for having encountered it.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Stands the test of time

One of my favorite sci fi novels that stands the test of time and 3 re-reads over 3 decades. The story still feels original after all these years, which says something. I love science fiction but so much these days is super derivative or so bizarre (structure and/or storyline), that I can’t relate.

Had to get used to the audio narrator (not my favorite) who gives a pretty straight reading, but once I did, I enjoyed the book on audio as much as reading it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

classic that still works

this is an acknowledged classic and deservedly so. it is very well written, full of prescient ideas concerning global warming and environmental and disease problems that were only beginning to be thought about seriously, but more important are themes developing out of a potential cloned society, the isolation of the society and the loss of individuality and humanity. a very thought provoking novel with some nice symbolism to tie together and deepen the themes. excellent. narrator was good, not stellar, could have been a little more animated and dynamic, but still book is solid.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Painful reader

I wanted to like this book, because I liked the topic, but the reader was actually painful to listen to. The way she read the male characters was a kind of painful burlesque. I think I did finish the book, and actually liked quite a bit of it in the end, but the audible reader was such a mismatch for the book for me that I gave it a very low ranking.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

I first read this as a young teen, SO many years ago. I’ve always been an avid reader and will give almost anything a chance. This was among my first forays into “science fiction”, which was regarded as drivel st the time.
Because of this and a very few other sci-fi books, which have since become recognized as classics, I no longer bought into that. It’s imaginative writing of the highest quality.
You won’t regret this one.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Ho-hum

Post-apocalyptic dystopia is one of my favorite subjects and this book is definitely in the genre. Unfortunately it was really a fairly dull listen although there were some portions that were well done. The book was OK, but the audio rendition was pretty rough. Particularly the male voices which were laughable. If you enjoy this genre, listen to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is a masterpiece of literature and audible performance.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing read!

Would you listen to Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang again? Why?

I would listen to this again -- I think its one of those books where you hear more of the story and understand more about the complex situation the more you listen to it.

What other book might you compare Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang to and why?

Perhaps books like "1984" or "Farenheit 451" in that the futuristic premise is just a framework for exploring a more relevant (and very current) social issue.

What about Anna Fields’s performance did you like?

Her performance enhanced the book, didn't detract from it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Molly (I think) has to leave her son behind, instructs him on how to survive on his own even though he is ostracized from the main society.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well written, compelling story

I loved this story. I?t is unlike any I have read. The story was compelling and the characters well written. Its a very good read.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A possible messed up future

It is an excellent hard sci-fi novel no doubt. It paints (if you pick this book you’ll get my meaning) a depiction of a future that could be humanity’s path to survive. It is a bit grody with the whole clone bone depictions but honestly give it a shot. She’s a dope author that I will be reading a lot more of cuz of this novel.