Steve Walker's Reviews > The Light of Other Days

The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke
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's review
Mar 26, 2012

liked it
Read from March 18 to 24, 2012

This story has some great concepts and provides a great vehicle to examine man's social interactions, moral values, relationship to God, and more. But it fails to deliver. Having read Baxter and Clarke, this is much more of a Clarke story outline with Baxter fleshing out the details. Set in the not too distant future, a wormhole technology is harnessed that allows one to establish a connection to another point on the earth to view and hear what is happening there. Perfect for espionage, or in the case of the main character, Hiram Patterson, a way to "scoop" other media agencies with celebrity photos and dirt. He is a mega billionaire set on making even more money. Eventually the technology is harnessed to visit specific places and events in the past, and the technology is mass produced such that the device is as common as a cell phone.

What happens when you can review your past, the past of anyone for that matter? And see every secret and hidden act. Immediately there are massive divorces, suicides as people's true nature is exposed. What happens with a society where you cannot lie or deceive? Excellent question and some good observations by Clarke/Baxter as to the impact this has on society.

What fails is the story wrapped around this fantastic concepts. I am not drawn to any character enough to care about them. Hiram gets whatever he wants, has two sons, one he raised and the other a secret from a previous relationship he ended long ago. These two brothers end up working together. A newspaper journalist who is looking for a real legitimate stories, but somehow lowers her standards to work for Hiram's company OurWorld Media. And of course there is the obligatory physical sexual relationship between her and Hiram's son David.

I give it a 3 instead of a 2 because the concepts are so thought provoking and especially all the discoveries and ideas that come out of the last 20 or so pages. All of that could have been a book of its own with the right characters and story. It's disappointing that the story did not nearly rise to the stature of the concepts. But there is enough here to make you think and that's what it''s all about.


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