TAE's genius idea: Load a tiny ship with stem cells and a bioprocessor. Then, launch said ship (and a small army of others explained later) at nearly light speed to nearby stars. The ship army automatically determines if habitable planets exist around star. If not, the microship army moves on to next star, and so forth until a habitable planet is discovered. The bioprocessor ship then activates the bioprocessor, which turns the stem cells into sperm and eggs. The sperm then fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs are then frozen and the spaceship sends a "Go" signal.
Phase 2: Once the "go" signal is detected, a small army of microships are launched in the direction of the colony ship. These ships contain parts and pieces of incubation chambers, a power plant, colony buildings, and highly advanced robots. The robot ships, almost like Voltron, assemble in space into the robots, who use solar power to function. The robots then start assembling the power plant, which has an autolanding mechanism built into it. The robots then land (switching from solar power to power from the plant) and assemble the incubation pods. The fertilized eggs are then thawed and cultured in the incubation chambers for 9 months.
Voila! Human babies are born. The robots then meticulously raise them, using food from food-bearing microships that have also landed. The robots also teach them. Soon the humans have started a colony. Earth, meanwhile, (years before) has sent out a radio broadcast to the future colonists. The radio broadcast arrives, and the colonists send one back. Years later, it arrives on earth. Congratulations, we've just colonized another world, in another solar system.
For the sake of honesty, I have only read four Arthur C. Clarke novels: 2001, 2010, 2061, and 3001. I certainly have never read The Songs of A Distant Earth, in which Clarke describes the fictional method he dreamed up for humans (faced with the failing of the sun) to colonize other planets and save the species:
In the book, early in the 21st century it is realized that Sol is failing and will go supernova relatively quickly in cosmic terms. (A physicist by training, Clarke was much more concerned with neutrino absence than sunspots.) In the novel, determined attempts to discover warp drive produce nothing. The only idea anyone can come up with to preserve life is to build cargo vessels bearing robots, supplies, seeds and human and mammal embryos, then send the vessels on lengthy journeys at a fraction of the speed of light. When the vessels arrive at a habitable world, the robots would go down to build shelters and plant crops; once it was safe, the embryos would be allowed to develop, tended by robots until new generations began. In "The Songs of Distant Earth," for several centuries humanity devotes itself to launching gigantic cargo vessels packed with thousands of tons of robots, supplies, medical equipment and records of Earth, then dispatching them one by one toward distant star systems. At last, a sort of unplanned Golden Age occurs -- nations no longer fight, rather, concentrate their efforts on cooperation to spread life elsewhere. As expansion of the sun approaches, people stop having children, and Earth's population declines dramatically. Then a few years before the expected calamity, stardrive finally is invented -- and all energy is focused on construction of a magnificent starship to hold the final million people in suspended animation for a journey of 10,000 years to a world that resembles Earth. As human beings leave their cradle for the last time, the ship travels into a galaxy where many planets now have Earth-based life, spread by the robot vessels.
You can imagine my chagrin to find out that Arthur C. Clarke rose from his grave, read my blog, stole my idea, time-traveled back in time and told his younger, 1985 self to write the story.
Or perhaps I should be flattered to know that my ingenious ideas are not far-fetched, to some.