I read this novel that I believe was written around 1975. Something - I think it was ecological - has resulted in the almost universal sterility. A (rich) family has created an enclave somewhere in the mountains, probably in Pennsylvania. They have developed quite advanced cloning techniques and the clones are fertile. But there's a problem - around the 4th generation, some genetic problems arise.

I thought the title was "Earth Abides", but now I know that can't be it!

Help me!

1 Answer 1


I think you may be remembering Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm.

Similarities: Post-apocalyptic, sterility, rich family, cloning, enclave.

Dissimilarity: The enclave is in Virginia, not Pennsylvania.

It won the Hugo Award for best novel in 1977, so that is close to your estimate of 1975.

From the dust jacket copy:

It is the story of the Sumners of Virginia, who have ruled over a lush valley along the Shenandoah for generations. But the Sumner's land, their money, their influence do not make them immune to the war and pestilence that destroy the rest of the earth. Through the foresight of the elder Sumners, they create a scientific research center that provides them with a means of survival. But as the Sumner men become sterile, the women barren, young David Sumner, his cousin Celia, and the other Sumners become victimized by an army of look-alike, think-alike clones who are able to perpetuate their Sumner bodies - but not their humanity. What hope there is for a real, human future must lie with the outcasts of the new society.

Cover shot from ISFB -

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  • 1
    Thank you, I am sure that is it. The brief description does not completely match my recollection, in so much as the clones were quite human (not "look-alike, think-alike" - the publisher probably wrote that to sell it). What was astonishing to me was a hypothesized generational problem wherein the later generations began to exhibit genetic anomalies - this is something that real cloning is also now stumbling into. (sort of like Johnathan Swift talking about the unknown moons of Mars).
    – Glenn N
    Mar 28, 2015 at 3:22

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