Voyage from Yesteryear is a 1982 science fiction novel by the author James P. Hogan. It explores themes of anarchism and the appropriateness of certain social values in the context of high-technology. The inspiration for the novel was the contention that the ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland had no immediate practical solution, and could only be solved if the children of one generation were somehow separated from their parents, and hence did not learn any of their prejudices.
How could humanity overcome its history of war and hatred? By a fresh start on a planet four light years away. Worth a listen!
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A classic Hogan story from 1982 mixing a few then-new ideas (reconstruction of human ova from digital storage, weak AI + advanced robotics, and a few almost cutting edge communication & personal computing concepts) with classic SF tropes — science good, military bad, robotic interstellar probes, STL human travel in armed generation ships, light terraforming, advanced controlled nuclear fusion, etc. Hogan tells a good story and ties together all his plots with a minimum of pseudo-science handwaving until the very end. A strong example of Hogan’s early work.
The narration is acceptable but, as others noted, the odd flow in some sections and pronunciation of a few words (notably “Terr-ann”) are disappointing quirks in an otherwise good performance.
What did you love best about Voyage from Yesteryear?
Nice early Hogan book, not one of his best, but not his worst either. Entertaining story, glad I listened to it.
What didn’t you like about Ed French’s performance?
Fine performance, EXCEPT he consistently puts the emphasis on the second syllable of "Terrans" (e.g., "tear-anns"), and he pauses in weird locations in the middle of sentences. Both these things can be distracting.
I've always loved this book! The performance did it credit. It's really a very inspiring story and it influenced me a great deal when I was younger and still does.
This is one of the few stories available out there which touches the topic of Embryo Colonization to other stars, and it does a remarkable job in exploring the possible social consequences of this approach and the unique way in which the new colonizers would be free and clean of any Earthling influence or any of their emotional baggage. This idea has always intrigued me, and Hogan's book was a delightful discovery. His writing is unique, precise and catching. I don't know how, but he has a way of perfectly explaining the small gestures and moods of people as they talk and interact. His writing style is so good, that I found myself wondering why did this man wrote science fiction at all. It's almost too good to be true.
Hogan has also a thing for prediction. I had to remind myself many times throughout the book that this was written in 1982. The author must have had some kind of crystal ball to peer into the future, because he just knew what kind of technologies would be important and which ones would be not in the days to come. People in his book talk greatly and ominously about fusion reactors, interstellar spaceships and artificial intelligence, as we do today, and yet they regard as mundane things like touch screens, the internet, hacking and video surveillance, as we also do today.
Much can be said about his "predictions" of what would happen if you raised a society free from historical baggage and submerged it in material abundance. I will agree with many that his ideas ring many times as naive or short-sighted. The Chironian society in the book seems to rely heavily on keeping a mono-culture and a post-scarcity economy, both of which are possible human achievement yes, but perhaps they just sound "too good" to be true to be able to be swallowed so easily by the reader, or without skepticism.
Nonetheless, the "eeriness" feeling from Hogan's technological predictions repeats itself as he describes how the Chironian meritocracy works. I couldn't help but thinking about Kickstarter and the digital economy as he related how money and politics became obsolete in Chiron's unique situation. The thought that Hogan may really be into something lurks on you as you go along, and while I doubt he will convince anyone that this is the way the world will be, I'm also sure he didn't convinced anyone that in the future people would have handheld computers and not think too much about em.
Special mention should be made about Ed's French narration, which was mind-blowing perfect for most of the characters in the book. His ominous accent and low pitch makes this story to feel just right. Bravo Mr. French! You raised this book to new levels with such great narration!
Would you consider the audio edition of Voyage from Yesteryear to be better than the print version?
I experienced both and the audio rendition was faithful to the novel. I would be hard-pressed to choose the better.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
It would be the same as my Headline for this review: Utopia is NEVER an option... on Earth.
Any additional comments?
It couldn't happen on Earth... a society where the only spendable commodity and measure of wealth is your reputation of doing your work well.... a society that is technologically advanced and independent... a society where all major conflicts have NOT been banned, but do not happen.... a society where the inability to think rationally and reasonably is considered to be a mental illness... a society where no one has any need or desire to rule over anyone else nor to be ruled over... in other words, a viable and working Utopia.
I really love all his books. They where the first books I have read for myself. I also have talked to him though email and receive parts of books before he published them. Being in the computer field I find he does a great job of explain what can be done with tech.
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What disappointed you about Voyage from Yesteryear?
I have tried to buy this twice ad twice it would not play,,, very disappointed
How could the performance have been better?
It could play
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If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Voyage from Yesteryear?
all scenes involving missionaries
Any additional comments?
The missionaries in this book are completely foreign to any real missionaries I have known. Those portrayed in this book are the sort that Christopher Dawkins would like to debate because they would be so two-dimansional and easy to overcome.
This book was awarded the Prometheus "Best Novel" of 1983
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