Jul 31, 12
Read in July, 2012
Voyages to the bottom of the ocean, future-retro utopias on tropical islands, human museums in a distant star system - this book covers a lot of ground, but not all the narrative threads seem to go anywhere relevant. Like in the opening scenes, where we spend a lot of time examining the rivalries of the two progenitors of human space travel (as yet to happen in Clarke's 1953) only for the whole concept to be promptly dumped along with the characters, the book sets a pattern. The novel seems less a story than a shovelful of topics that Clarke finds intriguing, sewn together to present a view of humanity's possible future.
It's an interesting read - I was gripped until the visual identity of the Overlords was revealed, but even before that there were signs the narrative was being stretched. The characters seem largely plot devices, dropped in to carry the story rapidly forward. They are cast away quickly, or, like Jan the galactic hitchhiker, lost in space and time only to reappear later as a vehicle to show the end of the story through one human's eye. It seems the whole section on him was inserted purely for that purpose. As the story faded towards its conclusion I lost interest, but it's still a good book, and Clarke was thinking way outside the box for standard 50s science fiction.