If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth

"If I Forget Thee, O Earth" is a science fiction short story by English writer Arthur C. Clarke and first published in 1951 in the magazine Future SF. It was subsequently published as part of a short story collection in Expedition to Earth (1953). The title is taken from Psalm 137:5—"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem"—which consists of the writer lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army. The themes in the story exploit the anxieties prevalent at the time regarding nuclear warfare.

The work was well received. Christian Science Monitor reviewer Peter J. Henniker-Heaton wrote: "I do not know of any short story that has moved me more than Arthur C. Clarke's 'If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth'."[1]

"If I Forget Thee, O Earth"
AuthorArthur C. Clarke
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inFuture SF
PublisherColumbia Publications
Publication dateSeptember 1951

Plot summary

"If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth" is the story of Marvin, a child who lives in a lunar colony. One day, his father (who is also the head scientist) drives him across the surface to see a glimpse of Earth, glowing with lethal radiation. The father tells Marvin that Earth was destroyed in a nuclear war. The colony is the last vestige of mankind, but without a goal to strive for, the colony (and mankind) will die. The ultimate goal of the colony will be to one day reclaim Earth, for mankind had developed to a point where the best of it could put its seed far enough away from where it had evolved, and away from the reach of development's harm, so that the cradle of humanity could be restored. It took individual effort to attain the colony when it almost failed, and individual effort to maintain the colony when it barely survived, and provided confidence that in the distant future the colony would restore mankind's cradle.


  1. ^ Henniker-Heaton, Peter J. (August 20, 1959). "Individuals, Communities, and Stars". Christian Science Monitor.

External links

Arthur C. Clarke bibliography

The following is a list of works by Arthur C. Clarke.

Expedition to Earth

Expedition to Earth (ISBN 0-7221-2423-6) is a collection of science fiction short stories by English writer Arthur C. Clarke.

There are at least two variants of this book's table of contents, in different editions of the book. Both variants include the stories "History Lesson" (1949) and "Encounter in the Dawn" (1953), but only one story is included under its own title; other story is included under the title "Expedition to Earth". Variants differ in the story that is included under its own title.

Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories

Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories were two American science fiction magazines that were published under various names between 1939 and 1943 and again from 1950 to 1960. Both publications were edited by Charles Hornig for the first few issues; Robert W. Lowndes took over in late 1941 and remained editor until the end. The initial launch of the magazines came as part of a boom in science fiction pulp magazine publishing at the end of the 1930s. In 1941 the two magazines were combined into one, titled Future Fiction combined with Science Fiction, but in 1943 wartime paper shortages ended the magazine's run, as Louis Silberkleit, the publisher, decided to focus his resources on his mystery and western magazine titles. In 1950, with the market improving again, Silberkleit relaunched Future Fiction, still in the pulp format. In the mid-1950s he also relaunched Science Fiction, this time under the title Science Fiction Stories. Silberkleit kept both magazines on very slim budgets throughout the 1950s. In 1960 both titles ceased publication when their distributor suddenly dropped all of Silberkleit's titles.

The fiction was generally unremarkable, with few memorable stories being published, particularly in the earlier versions of the magazines. Lowndes spent much effort to set a friendly and engaging tone in both magazines, with letter columns and reader departments that interested fans. He was more successful than Hornig in obtaining good stories, partly because he had good relationships with several well-known and emerging writers. Among the better-known stories he published were "The Liberation of Earth" by William Tenn, and "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke.

List of nuclear holocaust fiction

This list of nuclear holocaust fiction lists the many works of speculative fiction that attempt to describe a world during or after a massive nuclear war, nuclear holocaust, or crash of civilization due to a nuclear electromagnetic pulse.

List of science fiction short stories

This is a non-comprehensive list of short stories with significant science fiction elements.

Of Time and Stars

Of Time and Stars is a collection of science fiction short stories by British writer Arthur C. Clarke.

The stories all originally appeared in a number of different publications including the periodicals Dude, The Evening Standard, Lilliput, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Future, New Worlds, Startling Stories, Astounding, Fantasy, King's College Review, Satellite, Amazing Stories, London Evening News, Infinity Science Fiction and Ten Story Fantasy as well as the anthologies Star Science Fiction Stories No.1 edited by Frederik Pohl and Time to Come edited by August Derleth.

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 is the 137th psalm of the Book of Psalms, and as such it is included in the Hebrew Bible. In English it is generally known as "By the rivers of Babylon", which is how its first words are translated in the King James Version. It is Psalm 136 in the slightly different numbering system of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate versions of the Bible. Its Latin title is "Super flumina Babylonis".The psalm is a Communal lament about being in exile after the Babylonian captivity, and yearning for Jerusalem. The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies. It has been set to music often, and was paraphrased in hymns.

Space and survival

Space and survival refers to the idea that the long-term survival of the human species and technological civilization requires the building of a spacefaring civilization that utilizes the resources of outer space, and that not doing this could lead to human extinction. A related observation is that the window of opportunity for doing this may be limited due to the decreasing amount of surplus resources that will be available overtime as a result of an ever-growing population .

The earliest appearance of a connection between space exploration and human survival appears in Louis J. Halle’s 1980 article in Foreign Affairs, in which he stated colonization of space will keep humanity safe should global nuclear warfare occur. This idea has received more attention in recent years as advancing technology in the form of reusable launch vehicles and combination launch systems make affordable space travel more feasible.

Tales from Planet Earth

Tales From Planet Earth is a collection of science fiction short stories by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, originally published in 1990.

The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke

The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 2001, is a collection of almost all science fiction stories written by Arthur C. Clarke: it includes 114 in all arranged in order of publication, "Travel by Wire!" in 1937 through to "Improving the Neighbourhood" in 1999. The story "Improving The Neighbourhood" has the distinction of being the first fiction published in the journal Nature. The titles "Venture to the Moon" and "The Other Side of the Sky", are not stories but the series titles for groups of six interconnected stories, each story with its own title. This collection is missing several stories, for example "When the Twerms Came" which appears in his other collections More Than One Universe and The View from Serendip. This edition contains a foreword by Clarke written in 2000, where he speculates on the science fiction genre in relation to the concept of short stories. Furthermore, many of the stories have a short introduction about their publication history or literary nature.

In addition to the printed edition, an audio edition was published by Fantastic Audio in 2001. The audio edition, comprising five volumes, runs nearly fifty hours. An electronic edition of the book was published in four volumes by RosettaBooks in 2012.

The Nine Billion Names of God (collection)

The Nine Billion Names of God (1967) is a collection of science fiction short stories by Arthur C. Clarke.

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