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Can You Name This Story? (Part 11)

Another reader writes in with a story description looking for a title. Do any of our readers out there know the title of this story?

Theme: Bard saves the earth

HELP – I’m looking for Title and Author of 1950’s short story…

Story-line: – Earth is finally dying after colonizing the stars; polluted water, exhausted air, and diminishing resources spell Earth’s death. Earth’s Supreme Council sends VIP ambassadors to every colony with massive amounts of data and detailed plans to beg, plead for resources/money to [rejuvenate] earth. With only one ship left to send and no more VIPs, earth’s council as an afterthought sends a Bard as a “Forelorn Hope” All VIPs return empty handed having utterly failed with all their diagrams plans etc to convince anyone that the home planet is worth saving. The Bard also returns apparently empty handed and when the council asks him what he did he simply replies. “I didn’t bother trying to convince anyone, I just sang the old songs, told the old stories and myths and reminded them about the green hills of earth”. The council, furious with his wasted effort, is about to disband in [despair] when in rushes a messenger saying that

thousands upon thousands of space ships are earthbound to [rejuvenate] the home planet – because they heard the old songs and stories and were reminded of home.

Any help greatly appreciated.

Niela M.

How about it, dear SF Signal reader…can you name this story?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

9 Comments on Can You Name This Story? (Part 11)

  1. Maria Stahl // April 4, 2009 at 8:00 am //

    It doesn’t sound familiar but now I want to read it too. :o)

  2. Mark McSherry // April 4, 2009 at 8:29 am //

    A guess… “When Shadows Fall” by L Ron Hubbard from the July 1948 Startling Stories.

    “In a future where Mother Earth has cast her children to the distant stars to begin anew and colonize the cosmos, the planet remains depleted of natural resources. Its air polluted by caustic iron and belching smoke, Earth faces her last desperate days in the grip of global environmental collapse.

    “In one final and feeble effort, Earth’s Grand President Makin musters the dregs of his fleet and sends three separate missions to the deepest reaches of space. Their mission: solicit help from the far-flung colonial civilizations, or watch the planet die.”


  3. illumineer // April 4, 2009 at 9:01 am //

    Green Hills of Earth – Robert Heinlein

  4. Sorry, folks, it’s not Heinlein’s “The Green Hills of Earth.” Except for the phrase “green hills of earth” and the existence of space travel, Heinlein’s classic has nothing to do with the description given.

    It sounds like Mark McSherry is on the right track with the Hubbard story.

  5. Mark McSherry // April 4, 2009 at 4:22 pm //

    I dug up my copy of MEN AGAINST THE STARS which has the Hubbard story “When Shadows Fall” and it is the story mentioned. Niela’s recollection of the story is quite accurate. Much better than mine!

  6. Niela Miller // April 4, 2009 at 5:37 pm //

    The synopsis of the Hubbard story does not mention a BARD who

    sings the old songs and tells the old stories.  That is the MOST IMPORTANT

    element of the story, why they come to save earth.  Mark, is a Bard mentioned

    in the Hubbard story?

  7. Mark McSherry // April 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm //

    Yes, the Bard is Lars the Ranger.

    The leader of the thousands of ships returning to rejuvenate the dying Earth says of Lars, “…He came and sang us old ballads and told the hero tales of Earth. He reminded us of the heritage we had left behind and of what we owed the mother planet. He made us see the quiet ocean and the green hills where are fathers lived. And then, having shrugged and said it no more, he moved on… He went all through space and told his tales.”

  8. Niela asked me to express her gratitude to everyone for helping out, especially Mark.  Thanks, Mark!

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