Adam's Reviews > Way Station

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
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's review
Oct 20, 10

bookshelves: science-fiction
Recommended to Adam by: Alex Hiatt
Read from October 09 to 11, 2010

Way Station is an exceedingly charming science fiction story. Enoch Wallace, the protagonist, is a very earnest, endearing character made eccentric and quite wise by years spent alone or in the company of traveling aliens. Finishing the book, I was left most strongly with this impression of Enoch's character. There are several other levels on which this book is brilliant. It is not, as I was led to believe by a miscommunication, a mere exposition of Enoch's unique character and situation. It is rather a fairly epic drama in which “the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance.” Enoch's struggles with a crucial decision regarding his role in the fate of his civilization are an insightful exploration of some of the less triumphant aspects of the human condition. Simak was apparently not informed by ecological thinking like that expounded by William Catton, and thus his ideas of the problem of civilization seem a little naïve (i.e., there is discussion about what inherent evil causes humans to make war, and no mention of resource-based collapse). Product of its times, I guess.

On the other hand, Simak throws in as an extra treat a number of inspired ideas about the diversity of knowledge, understanding, and ways of being that a plurality of sentient species in the galaxy would imply. This is something science fiction is chronically deficient at (although I'm sure there's a ton of great stuff that is full of it I've just not found yet – any recommendations?), including especially and unfortunately my love: Star Wars. The range of possible fields of knowledge, including a “machine” that allows beings to commune with the spiritual Force of the Universe; a universal pasimology that can communicate in any medium; social prediction systems that combine complex social metrics and advanced statistics; along with a host of other ideas that inspire one to feel the limits and uniqueness of the window the human mind offers us.
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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan A fair assessment. Great book. One of my favourite SF novels. Be nice to see it as a film and it would have as much to say as Intetsteller but probably in half the time.


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