'The Songs of Distant Earth' by Mike Oldfield is inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke novel of the same name. The commercial CD features one track of interactive CD-Rom material and 57 minutes of wonderful music. The new album will be released on November 14th, 1994.
"For many years now I have been experimenting with computer graphics as part of the process of making music. Often while working on a piece, I would visualise images that seemed to flow naturally from the music. While working on 'The Songs of Distant Earth', this became a two-way process with some of the images I had created helping me to imagine the music. The CD-Rom track is a visual sketch of the ideas and images I had in mind as I was writing and recording the album"
-- Mike Oldfield, October 1994.
Arthur C. Clarke OBE was born in Somerset in 1917. In a long and illustrious career, he has written over fifty books including 2001 : A Space Odyssey. He currently lives in Sri Lanka.
" 'The Songs of Distant Earth' is my favourite book, and had a curious - indeed unique - genesis. Early in 1957, the year the Space Age opened, the phrase 'these are the songs of distant Earth' popped into my mind from nowhere. It kept circling inside my head, as Sputnik was to go around the Earth six months later, and the only way of exorcising it was to sit down and hammer out a 12,000-word novella, which was printed the next year in an American science-fiction magazine.
"And there the matter rested until 1963 when I decided to expand the original story into a full-length book. I set myself a deliberate challenge : was it possible to write a dramatic but totally realistic novel about interstellar travel, in which the speed limit set by the velocity of light was accepted, and journeys between stars took decades or even centuries?
"The writing proceeded with corresponding slowness, and not until two years later was the novel sent off to the publishers. By then, I had departed almost completely from the original story, and only the location and the basic idea remained. It would, if I may say so, make a wonderful movie, and indeed was once optioned by Michael Phillips (Close Encounters...) The warp drive envisioned by Alcubierre is made possible by the subtleties of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
"Well, I hope Mr. Alcubierre is right, but I am a little sceptical. If warp 6 really is possible - where are all the tourists?
"Another technological forecast in 'The Songs of Distant Earth', the Space Elevator, has fared rather better. Building this would require a material strong enough to stretch all the way from stationary orbit down to the Equator, without being snapped by Earth's gravity. Such a material was discovered in 1993 by chemists at Rice University, Texas; it's the tubular form of C60, better known as Buckminsterfullerene. And by an extraordinary coincidence, "Bucky" Fuller himself wrote the sleeve-notes of my recording of The Fountains of Paradise, the novel based on this idea. What a pity he did not live to see the discovery of the material which now bears his name, and which may make this dream come true!
"Since the finale of the novel is a musical concert, I was delighted when Mike Oldfield told me that he wished to compose a suite inspired by it. I was particularly impressed by the music he wrote for 'The Killing Fields', and now, having played the CD-Rom of 'The Songs of Distant Earth', I feel he has lived up to my expectations.
"Welcome back into space, Mike; there's still lots of room out here."
-- (c) 1994 Arthur C. Clarke
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net