I read a book as a kid in the 70s. I think the book was written then, but could have been late sixties.

It is about a colony on a distant planet that for some reason need to go back to earth. Due to time dilation they end up arriving to a deserted earth tho they don't realize this has occurred. There is a sequence where they are flying over what should be Sheffield and just finding fields.

That is all I remember other than it having a profound effect on me even though I can't remember anything else about it. I would love to get hold of this book and read it again. I'm sure that despite moving on to Robert A. Heinlein and Philip K. Dick the effect it had will still happen; I hope!

  • Hmm, is there anything else you remember. It's not much to go by; no real specifics means you're not really going to get an answer. Maybe you should try to hunt by the year; sci-fi books back then weren't as numerous, and perhaps a cover check (you know, judge the book by its cover) and see if you recognize anything. You can look up books published by year, and scan it. I'd start with the year you think you read it (and probably go a year past it in case of faulty memory!) and work backwards. Sadly, a 40+ year old book may have long since been disconntinued, out-of-print, etc. I supremely doub
    – Jersey
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 16:42
  • How do you remember the book was British?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 18:25
  • @MrLister - Probably by the reference to Sheffield specifically. Commented May 7, 2013 at 13:05
  • But there are places named Sheffield all around the world! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield_%28disambiguation%29
    – Mr Lister
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 14:00
  • 1
    @MrLister - yes, but clearly the OP when reading the book took it to mean the UK city, which is a city of over half a million people. Looking at a few of the alternative places - I would doubt that all of them together have a population one fifth of the size. Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


I'm wondering if this might be Earthsearch? It isn't an exact fit. It was a radio series, but it was British and there was a novelization (by James Follett) The returnees are a colonization ship, not a colony. They don't find Earth at all, but they do visit a desert world.

  • I enjoyed that radio series. Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 23:25

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