I remember reading this book years ago, but I'm unable to remember the title. I'm hoping someone else has read it and remembers the title. Here is a quick synopsis from what I remember:

Humans, while testing their first FTL drive, travel to the closest star and destroy it. However, there was an unknown, inhabited world around the star. The world was populated by telepaths; when the telepaths realized what was going on, they 'screamed' out into the universe with their last dying breath, asking all the other telepathic aliens to kill these other aliens (humans) in revenge. It tells the story through generational gaps, as humans attempt to survive the ensuing genocide committed against them.

If anyone could give me the title for this book, I would love to re-read it!

  • Not exactly the book you are looking for but check out The Host by Stephanie Meyer. It was somewhat similar to what you are asking about. – Chad Apr 13 '12 at 19:29
  • I don't suppose you have a guess as to the pub date? For some reason it makes me think of Ursula K Leguin and she has a looooooong bibliography. – sheepeeh Apr 26 '12 at 14:38
  • For the longest time I thought it was Ursula Leguin but I haven't found it in her bibliography yet. I'll continue looking. As I mentioned below, I read it prior to 1990 and would guess pub date from late '70s to early '80s. – Jim2B Feb 26 '15 at 23:22

This is almost certainly Earth Ship and Star Song by Ethan I. Shedley. The first human starship accidentally destroys another civilization, which gives a telepathic alarm, and thereafter, humanity is hunted and destroyed whenever they gather together.

@Jim2B's summary sounds very familiar, though I haven't read the book since the 80s and don't remember exact details.

Here's the summary from the inner flap of Earth Ship and Starsong:

The year is 2100, and mankind has destroyed the earth's ecology. Faced with irrefutable evidence that the end is near, the technocracy that governs the remnants of the human race realizes that there is no workable alternative but to emigrate from this "bitter lesson called Earth."
But there are dangers. Man must adapt for the journey, and must perfect the power source for his Earth Ships—a drive based on the controlled creation of black holes in space. Blind to the existence of any sentient race that has not developed along technological lines, man destroys a telepathic race while refining the Black Hole Drive. Realizing its doom, this race spreads a call for revenge throughout the galaxy. The reader will follow with fascination as man—the hunted—tries time and again to found a new home, only to be destroyed and driven to the fringes of a hostile universe by increasingly virulent attacks. Will man be allowed to atone, or must he strike back to regain his place in the cosmos?

  • Thanks for the edit. I didn't have time for much information. – LAK Feb 27 '15 at 15:16
  • It sounded like an interesting book so I looked it up on OpenLibrary.org. – Joe L. Feb 27 '15 at 15:43
  • This is the answer I was looking for! Thank you! – Jim2B Feb 27 '15 at 19:21

I have the same question and the story is undoubtedly the same. I have additional details of the story but do not know the author or title. It is not "The Survivor's" as suggested in the answer.

Earth is in desperate ecological shape. In the first chapter, scientists discover that no matter what humanity does, the Earth will become uninhabitable. So humanity begins a crash course to develop interstellar drives and spaceships to move humanity.

Our first test of the interstellar drive creates a black hole in the Alpha Centauri system. This disrupts the orbits of the planets in that solar system - much to the detriment of the intelligent species living in that solar system. They are not a technological civilization but a psychic civilization. They send out a telepathic distress message identifying humanity as the race guilty of their imminent genocide.

Most of the rest of the book tells of how the psychic races of the galaxy attempt to take retribution on humanity while humanity attempts to flee from persecution by the galactic telepaths - this includes setting booby trap ships and planets.

The book is somewhat written as a series of stories mapping the progress of humanity over time and how this hostile environment forces humanity to adapt in order to survive.

Human ships are dumbbell shaped. Late in the book, humans paint the outside of their ships with scenes of Earth as a memory of what they lost.

Late in the book there's a mentally picturesque meeting of humanity high above the plane of the galactic spiral arms.

For a while I thought the title was something like "Earthsong, Star ...?" but I can't find any novels similar to this. It is not "The Songs of Distant Earth" by AC Clarke, "Earthsong" by Victor Kelleher, nor is it "The Dispossessed" by Ursala Le Guin.

The book was likely published before 1990.

  • 1
    Good post. Partial answers need love too. – Valorum Feb 26 '15 at 20:08
  • This is the exact book i'm looking for, just much more detailed description. – Anthony May 27 '16 at 0:13
  • @Jim2B I think the Le Guin story you were thinking of may have been Rocannon's World, not The Dispossessed. Although most of the plot in OP's synopsis is different, a telepath experiencing the death of thousands occurs in Rocannon's World. – Mike Harris Jan 11 '18 at 15:21
  • It turned out to be Earth Ship & Star Song. However, one of the reasons that I like to post questions here, is I always get plenty of new ideas for novels to read :) – Jim2B Jan 14 '18 at 19:32

Is it possibly "The Survivors" by Tom Godwin?

  • 2
    Please flesh out your answer by adding what details of this book match the description in the question. – user1027 Jul 31 '12 at 0:45
  • Reading the summary this doesn't sound anything like the book in the question – Nick Aug 24 '12 at 9:40

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