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Way Station

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Enoch Wallace is an ageless hermit, striding across his untended farm as he has done for over a century, still carrying the gun with which he had served in the Civil War. But what his neighbors must never know is that, inside his unchanging house, he meets with a host of unimaginable friends from the farthest stars.

More than a hundred years before, an alien named Ulysses had recruited Enoch as the keeper of Earth's only galactic transfer station. Now, as Enoch studies the progress of Earth and tends the tanks where the aliens appear, the charts he made indicate his world is doomed to destruction. His alien friends can only offer help that seems worse than the dreaded disaster. Then he discovers the horror that lies across the galaxy...

210 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1963

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About the author

Clifford D. Simak

783 books898 followers
"He was honored by fans with three Hugo awards and by colleagues with one Nebula award and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1977." (Wikipedia)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,588 reviews
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books564 followers
March 8, 2020
I may have a new favorite classic sci-fi author – Clifford D. Simak. It’s a tragedy that I’m just discovering him now – a glitch that quickly needs to be rectified. I loved Way Station and Simak’s writing. I found it to be warm, unpretentious, and distinctly midwestern. Lately, I’ve been rereading Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov and some of the luster of my youthful idolization has worn away. Simak might be just the one to restore the patina of my love of the golden age of Science Fiction.

Way Station revolves around a man, named Enoch Wallace. Enoch is a survivor of the U.S. Civil War and his birth records say that he’s 124 years old, but he doesn’t appear to be a day over thirty. The government is watching him – something’s not right. Something about his age, his house, and his life.

Unbeknownst to the government, Enoch is a caretaker. For almost a century, he has been singlehanded running a way station inside his secluded and humble home in the backwoods of rural Wisconsin. His house is a rest stop for individuals passing through. These individuals happen to be otherworldly guests from all over the Galaxy. They teleport (sort of) in, rest for a bit, and then teleport on their way. This ingenious plot allows for all kinds of creatures who not only enjoy interacting (as much as they can), but also leaving him intriguing little gifts behind. Many of which Enoch struggles to understand their purpose and function. However, all is not well. A series of events begin to converge that puts Enoch, his Way Station, Earth and even the entire Galaxy at great peril.

There was one plotline that I didn’t love as much as the rest of the story. It involves Enoch's loneliness and to me, it felt added in and disconnected to the rest of the story. It felt to me like an editor recommended adding some flaws to the MC and this was the response. It’s a small complaint and it just might be my biased perception.

However, overall, this is my favorite kind of science fiction. It’s filled with wonder, possibilities, and intriguing ideas. It satisfies without tricky science, or space battles, or excessive violence. Simak uses this wonderous galactic worldbuilding to explore very human themes. His writing is at times is plain, but at just the right moment, he creates emotion and sentimental beauty.

A line from the opening page - “But silence was an alien note that had no right upon this field or day, and it was broken by the whimper and the pain, the cry for water, and the prayer for death – the crying, the calling, and the whimpering that would go on for hours beneath the summer sun.”

I need to stop the review to run out and get “City” and anything else I can find by written by Simak! While embarrassing to admit this hole in my sci-fi past, I’m excited to have a new grand master to enjoy. Five stars for this imaginative and ingenious far out tale that exposes deeply human themes.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
July 29, 2021

Way Station by Clifford Simak is a very good, classic science fiction yarn.

A bit dated, just a little and not hurtfully so, similar to a more modern language than that used by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

A great mix of hard science fiction and the softer social sciences cousin of the genre; like Heinlein, without the sexual aggression and with an almost Bradburyesque idyllic sentimentality. Way Station was first published in 1963 and won the Hugo Award for best Novel in 1964. This was certainly a very influential work for later generations of writers, and specifically I wonder if the producers of the Men In Black stories had read Way Station.

A very good read.

*** 2021 reread -

While this is still a charming SF story, I paid more attention this time to protagonist Enoch and noticed how Simak described him as a civil war soldier, having been born in the 1840s, and was still alive over a century later, the sole caretaker of a galactic way station on backwater Earth. Having him be an experienced soldier of a bloody war gave an edge to our hero, more so that I realized in my first reading.

Enoch lives in the way station, his old farm house modified by the aliens, and only ages when he goes outside. So he ages an hour or so each or every other day and so has remained youthful. Doing some crude math that means he's aged about four years in the last one hundred. Seems like I've read another story that had a similar vehicle for aging slowly so here is another example of how this Hugo winner has been inspirational to later writers.

Great classic SF, a must read for fans of the genre.

Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
March 23, 2018
Teenage Tadiana: YES! Way Station! All the stars! I love this story of Enoch Wallace, a Civil War veteran whose home is being used as an interstellar way station, a stopping point for alien travelers journeying from one part of the galaxy to another. As part of the deal, Enoch never ages while he is inside his home. For 100 years Enoch isn't bothered by anyone--he lives in the backwoods and the local people leave him alone--but eventually the government becomes suspicious of Enoch's agelessness and the fact that no one else on earth is able to enter his house. Ever.

Older, more cynical Tadiana: Hmm. Way Station. Pretty good SF. Loved it when I was a kid, but it's kind of old-fashioned, informed by the Cold War. 4 stars.

Teenage Tadiana: *shrieks* 4 STARS! You're crazy! This book is the best! I love all the different types of aliens--they're really alien. And the PRESENTS they give to Enoch. SO cool. /gushing

Older Tadiana: Yeah, the aliens and their incredible gifts were pretty cool. But hillbillies? And a mute girl with the ability to charm off warts and fix broken butterflies, for realz?

Teenage Tadiana: C'mon. This book won the Hugo Award in 1964. Back when the Hugo meant something! And how can you not love Enoch's funeral for an alien that combines this: "In my father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you" and this: "Here lies one from a distant star, but the soil is not alien to him, for in death he belongs to the universe.”

Older Tadiana: *sighs* Okay, back up to 5 stars. I hope you're happy.

Teenage Tadiana: Pffft. You know I'm right.
Profile Image for carol..
1,534 reviews7,862 followers
October 16, 2012

Four paragraphs:

"And there she sat, with the wild red and gold of the butterfly poised upon her finger, with the sense of alertness and expectancy and, perhaps, accomplishment shining on her face. She was alive, thought Enoch, as no other thing he knew had ever been alive. The butterfly spread its wings and floated off her finger and went fluttering, unconcerned, unfrightened, up across the wild grass and the goldenrod of the field."

"They would say he was a madman; that he had run them off at gunpoint. They might even say that he had kidnapped Lucy and was holding her against her will. They would stop at nothing to make him all the trouble that they could. He had no illusions about what they might do, for he knew the breed, vindictive in their smallness--little vicious insects of the human race."

"He sensed the crashing down of not only his own personal world, but all the hopes of Earth. With the station gone, Earth once more would be left in the backwaters of the galaxy, with no hope of help, no chance of recognition, no realization of what lay waiting in the galaxy. Standing alone and naked, the human race would go on in its same old path, fumbling its uncertain way toward a blind, mad future."

"It was something that was past all description--a mother's love, a father's pride, the adoration of a sweetheart, the closeness of a comrade, it was all of these and more. It made the farthest distance near and turned the complex simple and it swept away all fear and sorrow, for all of there being a certain feeling of deep sorrow in it, as if one might feel that never in his lifetime would he know an instant like this, and that in another instant he would lose it and never would be able to hunt it out again. But that was not the way it was, for this ascendant instant kept going on and on."

Four paragraphs to capture the beauty, the conflict, the despair and the peace contained in only 210 pages.

Set in 1960, published in 1963, Way Station represents its time perfectly. Simak was in love with the early ideas of science fiction: space travel; the miraculous devices; the potential of humanity; intergalactic language; the aliens of unusual being; the idea of intergalactic federation. He also saw the flip side: small-minded violence, suspicion, spying, power plays, nuclear war. His lead character is a man named Enoch Wallace, born in 1840 on a small Wisconsin farm. After fighting in the Civil War under Ulysses Grant, Enoch returns to the farm. Before long, he is alone in the house he grew up in, but his solitude does not last. A very unusual visitor comes one night with a proposal for him.

The language, while rather clear and simple, fittingly captures the the simple and elemental beauty of the rural Wisconsin landscape, and the ongoing wonder Wallace has for alien peoples and cultures. Simak did a marvelous job of developing the feel of a 120 year-old-man immersed in his head, both memories and his self-taught explorations. The time span was impressive and the historical snapshots integrated smoothly.

The narrative uses straightforward language to explore philosophical questions most of us have had, the moments we find hope for humanity, and those moments we despair. While that might sound like a slow read, parallel with these musings are Wallace's small-scale drama with a neighbor girl and her thoughtless family, and a large-scale drama with being spied upon by the CIA. They give focus to his musings and structure the conflict.

The first time through, I struggled a little with .

This is a slow, evocative book that fully deserves to win the Hugo again. It isn't sexy according to modern tastes of action, multi-perspective narrative or violence. But that is exactly why I recommend it: to have a glimpse of the sci-fi age that struggled with the philosophical underpinnings of the glories of science and exploration, that made room for the big question--what it means to be human. It truly is a brilliant book to pose these questions as it does, with so many contrasts that lend meaning and perspective. Rural Wisconsin, outer space. A young deaf-mute woman and a man who communicates with aliens. A Civil-War era human immersing himself in learning and concepts that would stun modern physics and mathematicians. The lady-slipper plants hidden along a trail, and an alien-built house concealing an intergalactic way station.

Really a lovely book. Four and a half stars on a moonless night. Library-worthy.

Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
Profile Image for Nancy.
557 reviews768 followers
April 8, 2016
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

This spare little story is set in a small Wisconsin town. Despite the pastoral setting and the narrow-minded, clannish inhabitants of the town, Enoch Wallace, keeper of an intergalactic transport system known as the Way Station, is a very likeable and open character.

This wonderful, thought-provoking book is a fast and easy read. There is no action, no alien battles in the stars, no government agents surrounding the Way Station and bundling Enoch off in an unmarked van. Way Station is a very quiet book that explores war and violence, racial tolerance, friendship and loneliness and what the definition of home is.

One of my all-time favorites!

"For years I've tried to understand and to conform to the ethics and ideas of all the people who have come through this station. I've pushed my own human instincts and training to one side. I've tried to understand other viewpoints and to evaluate other ways of thinking, many of which did violence to my own. I am glad of all of it, for it has given me a chance to go beyond the narrowness of Earth."
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews780 followers
March 8, 2018
The first science fiction book I have ever read was All Flesh Is Grass by Clifford D. Simak. I was so astonished and entertained that I immediately looked for more sf to read and to this day I still prefer reading sf than any other form of fiction. Yes, I should broaden my horizon and read more literary fiction or classics which I do from time to time but I will always favor sf. So I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Simak for helping me find my reading comfort zone. Anyway, All Flesh Is Grass is not Simak's best book as I soon found out, Way Station is.

Way Station won Simak a Hugo award in 1964, in a nutshell it is a story of a man who runs a way station for intergalactic FTL traveling network, Earth branch. For his services, he does not age while within the station, which is his house completely modified by alien techs. He also gets a lot of alien freebies and gifts from travelers and as much alien technology, info, and knowhow as he can manage to comprehend, not to mention a virtual alien safari for target practice. What's not to like eh? The downside is that his neighbors think he is weird and outrageously immortal but they don't inform the media or the authorities because they don't want the press, the military etc. disturbing their idyllic rural lives.

This lovely cover nicely depicts a scene from the book.

This is a reread for me, I reread very few books, there are just too many books in the world that I have not read. Fortunately (or not) I have a memory like a sieve so rereads are generally more than worthwhile. Coming back to this book I was skeptical about Simak's FTL travel idea. Basically, the travelers teleport from one planet to another via stations. What then - I thought - is the point of having way stations? Why not just teleport directly to your destination? Simak dealt with this issue nicely, there are areas of high ionization that distort and disrupt the traveling pattern. There is still a flaw in the idea, though, travelers are duplicated from the point of departure to the point of arrival leaving a corpse behind. They don't simply dematerialize and rematerialize. So the tech is more like cloning than transportation and the travelers are actually committing suicide! I would not want to travel like that, to hell with my clone, he can't have my life! Unfortunately, Simak did not deal with this issue.

But I digress, the story is more concerned with loyalty to the human race, mankind's tendency to make wars, a brotherhood of man (and aliens), and what it means to be human (always a good theme). Simak was not a sophisticated wordsmith like Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe, he writes fairly simplistic prose, not inarticulate, just without much in the way of verbal flourishes. I believe he was well aware of this and used the simplicity of his prose to maximum effect. The strength of his prose lies in its clarity and visual quality, so reading his stories you never have to reach for a dictionary and it is easy to picture the scenes he is describing no matter how otherworldly. Another constant feature of his works is his compassion, warmth, and optimism. His characters are rarely prone to violence and while recognizing how flawed the human race is he was still optimistic that our overall goodness will pull us through.

Art by maronski

Way Station is fast paced without actually being action packed. A lot of the technology is outdated, Simak was never a hard sf writer, he was no Arthur C. Clarke. Also, neologism was not his bag, for example, the alien communication machine is simply called "message machine", and his mention of "the thaumaturgists from Alphard XXII" made me snigger a bit (sorry Cliff). At the end of the day though you have to indulge Simak a little given that he wrote this in the 60s. If you are fans of modern sf by the likes of Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Neal Stephenson the simple fares that Simak has to offer may not be for you, but if you are in the mood for a simple, uncomplicated, pastoral science fiction reading Way Station may be just the ticket. Also highly recommended for young readers and new sf readers.

fancy line

Note: This Guardian article on Simak is excellent, it explains a little about the late lamented pastoral science fiction sub-genre.

Not sure what this illustration has to do with the book, but it's good for a giggle.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,181 followers
November 11, 2022
Hugo Award Best Novel 1964

I like my sci-fi with a heavy helping of science, even better when a couple spoonfuls of philosophical musings are stirred in. Watered down sci-fi usually doesn't do it for me, so I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.

It's about this 124-year old guy named Enoch. Despite his age, Enoch looks like a young man. His house, built before the Civil War, doesn't succumb to the years either.

Enoch is a hermit, talking only to the mailman and occasionally the neighbors down the road. Oh, and the aliens who stop by his house/way station on their journeys to other star systems.

There is a focus on humanity's self-destructive behavior, our inclination for killing and war, and how it hinders us: “Until the last man threw away his weapon (any sort of weapon), the tribe of Man could not be at peace.”

It's not all bad, however, and there is plenty on Earth and about humans worth saving. Coffee, for instance :) - "'Delectable,' Ulysses said. 'Of all the drinks that I have drank on all the planets I have visited, the coffee is the best.'"

This is a slow story. There isn't any action until near the end and even then it's not much. As such, it won't appeal to all readers. I prefer slow books and was really drawn into this book. I loved the author's writing style as well - gentle and quiet and compelling.

Since the story is not set in "the future" but instead at the time the author wrote it (the '60s), it does not have some of the amusing concepts that often lace old sci-fi, especially how "the future" (especially when it's "now") is imagined so differently to how things are.

All in all, a beautiful and engaging novel, one I"m glad I read.
July 5, 2018
He needed sun and soil and wind to remain a man. (c)
We realized that among us, among all the races, we had a staggering fund of knowledge and of techniques - that working together, by putting together all this knowledge and capability, we could arrive at something that would be far greater and more significant than any race, alone, could hope of accomplishing. (c)
A man... must belong to something, must have some loyalty and some identity. (c)
A million years ago there had been no river here and in a million years to come there might be no river – but in a million years from now there would be, if not Man, at least a caring thing. And that was the secret of the universe... a thing that went on caring. (c)
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,091 followers
December 6, 2018
the fool known as Man is too slow to learn, too fast on the draw, too committed to staying still. the man known as Enoch Wallace stays to watch and mind the way, to live and so learn, to dream beyond those fools known as Men. but he is a man still, and a loyal one, to Men. he'll learn and he'll fight for them, his fellows, living beside them but always aside from them, in his lonely way station, his alien friends coming and going and seldom returning. he'll mind that way and he'll chart the fall of Man, planning all the while to raise them higher. the author Clifford D. Simak, calm and careful and bursting with ideas, a heart bursting with love, makes a chart as well. a chart that tracks the eternal life of Enoch Wallace, its slow rise, its slow sloughing off of all that is brutal, weak, or indulgent. the author wonders, and perhaps despairs: can such a rise happen for brutal, weak, indulgent Man - is evolution even possible? the book Way Station is both nihilist and optimist, dire and sweet. how shall it all end - with a bang, a whimper, or a small step into the space beyond? no spoilers allowed, not for the book, nor for the fate of Man. we shall all have to wait and see what becomes of us, of our sweet dire lives, what these lives could amount to. will there be meaning? will an end become a beginning?
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,221 reviews167 followers
January 7, 2023
A pre-cursor to Star Trek's Galactic Federation!

Enoch Wallace is 124 years old, the last survivor of the Civil War, living as a recluse in the woods of southwest Wisconsin. For reasons of their own, aliens have selected Enoch to run an inter-stellar way station, a hub of their galactic transportation network that enables aliens from planets across the galaxy to travel instantaneously from one star system to another. Because the aliens have decided that mankind and earth are not yet ready for membership in this galactic federation, Enoch must labour in splendid isolation and keep the station's secret to himself. Inevitably, Wallace's astonishing longevity attracts notice and the US government begins to investigate both Wallace and the odd happenings at his house in the woods.

When the investigating agent inadvertently interferes with alien property, the aliens (whose political alliances are also uncharacteristically strained) threaten retribution and removal of the way station from earth entirely. With the aid of alien science and mathematics, Wallace now believes the world is headed unavoidably for self-annihilation in a nuclear war that will destroy humanity for centuries to come. Despite his obvious desire for a union between mankind and the alien races he has come to know and respect, Wallace is left with what amounts to an impossible Hobson's choice - abandon humanity, join the aliens in their travels across the galaxy and man a way-station elsewhere; or bid farewell to the aliens and toss in his lot with the human species that he is convinced is destined for self-destruction.

In many ways, WAY STATION is a typical Simak novel, quiet and soft in a comfortably low key character and idea-driven pastoral style. One might even go so far as to say it hovers on the edge of fantasy or mysticism as it explores the idea of humanity's reaction to other sentience in the universe or other more difficult ideas such as what might form the basis for an alien "religion". But, in this very short novel (perhaps typical of the classic sci-fi era), Simak also explores some harder sci-fi ideas such as teleportation, holograph technology, the form that sentient aliens may take and the construction of alien language.

The intensely emotional happy ending, comfortably warm and fuzzy is probably a reflection of Simak's personal optimism (or at least hopes) for the future of man and Earth as we evolve in the years to come. A thoroughly enjoyable must read for any lover of classic sci-fi.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for Charles  van Buren.
1,709 reviews178 followers
March 3, 2023
One of the golden age greats

This 1964 Hugo Award winning novel combines science fiction and fantasy with science, psychology, religion and philosophy. There are, to my mind, some unrealistic utopian goals for Earth and the galaxy but that was very much the fashion in 1950's and 60's scifi. Plenty of action and plenty to think about related in wonderful prose.
Profile Image for Stuart.
718 reviews267 followers
August 15, 2015
Way Station: A solitary Midwesterner holds the key to the stars
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Way Station is Clifford D. Simak’s 1964 Hugo Award-winning novel. By many readers it is considered his best, and it features some his favorite themes: a rugged Midwesterner who shuns society, human society flirting with nuclear disaster, a more enlightened galactic society that is wary of letting unruly humans join in, an appeal to common sense and condemnation of man’s penchant for violence.

Having recently read Simak’s 1952 fixer-up novel City, in which dogs and robots take over Earth in the far future, I’m getting a pretty good sense of the author’s likes and dislikes. He was born in a small Wisconsin town (just like my father, incidentally), attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison (also like my father), spend time working as an editor at various newspapers, and finally became a SF writer. I grew up in Honolulu, HI, but my dad took me back to my grandmother’s house in Delafield, WI every summer and winter, and I developed an affinity for the rhythms of country life in Wisconsin, including the lush greens of trees and blues of lakes in summer, the bitter but beautiful white snow-cover of winter, the rolling hills of pastures and various crops, lots of birds and squirrels and possums and deer, and more than anything the hearty but modest folk, most of whom are really warm and welcoming when they get to know you. But there is certainly a strong desire for people to respect each other’s space and privacy, and with acres between each residence, everyone has plenty of time on their own to mind their own affairs. That’s how they like it, I suspect.

Simak’s novel Way Station is about a man named Enoch Wallace, who is rumored to have been a veteran in the Civil War, but lives a solitary life on a small farm and has almost no doings with his neighbors other than during brief encounters during his daily walk on his property. From the outside, there is nothing interesting about him or his little house and shed, but in fact this placid façade houses a secret way station for aliens making pit-stops during interstellar travel. Since the aliens never go outside, but merely chat and swap stories with Enoch, nothing seems untoward. The only problem is that Enoch never ages, and finally the CIA gets wind of this and send someone to investigate. When they snoop around and find a strangely-engraved gravestone, they unearth it and discover something shocking…

Unlike City, which was really a series of loosely-connected stories that I didn’t find added up to a compelling story, Way Station is a well-plotted novel that takes it time with lots of intriguing episodes as he meets a myriad of different aliens, including an alien named Ulysses who becomes his friend. It’s quite endearing that he feels more connection with the aliens than with the people around him, but sad that he has a strong enough yearning for human contact that he invents an entire group of imaginary friends that he converses with like real people. One wonders how much of Simak can be found in Enoch’s character, and how much is just storytelling.

Although the book isn’t rushing to forward the plot, it does slowly reveal the scope of the importance of the Way Station in intergalactic politics, and how Enoch himself is the only representative of the human race who will likely decide whether aliens will intercede in humanity’s suicidal urge to destroy itself with nuclear weapons. The only problem is that the aliens’ cure is almost as bad as the disease. Enoch reaches a crisis point when both ornery locals, the CIA, and hostile aliens all converge on his little place, and the story really delivers a satisfactory conclusion that isn’t that predictable.

Having read a number of recent novels with massive page-counts but disappointing finishes, I really appreciate a nicely-paced story that delivers the goods in under 250 pages. This book really stands the test of time (much more than City, in my opinion) and is worth your precious reading time. The audiobook is narrated by Eric Michael Summerer and he does a nice job of capturing the steady Midwestern rhythms of the story and narrator.
Profile Image for Jeraviz.
913 reviews404 followers
December 6, 2021
Clifford D. Simak nos narra una historia bastante alejada al tono apocalíptico que suelo encontrar cuando leo novelas de esa época. Es verdad que hace referencias a la Guerra Fría y al conflicto nuclear pero lo hace desde un punto de vista optimista que hace que haya llegado a nuestros días con más fuerza que otras historias de esos años.

La historia se centra en Enoch Wallace, un hombre que tiene más de 120 años pero que no aparenta más de 30, que es el encargado de llevar la estación de tránsito situada en la Tierra. Una estación por la que pasan viajeros de todas las partes de la Galaxia.

Tanto la trama como el tono con el que nos lo cuenta siguen siendo vigentes hoy en día porque aunque ese mensaje de paz y unidad entre seres humanos y las distintas razas alienígenas que pueblan la Galaxia se enmarca en la Guerra Fría, tampoco hace muchas referencias como para que no sirva en cualquier otro conflicto o contexto como el actual.

Si puedes leer una traducción actual lo vas a agradecer porque he leído una antigua y cuesta trabajo algunas expresiones. Entre eso, y que Simak no termina de perfilar algunos personajes dejándolos simplemente en decorados de fondo hacen que no le suba a 5 estrellas. Pero aún así es una lectura muy entretenida y corta que merece la pena leer.
Profile Image for Mimi.
694 reviews190 followers
February 19, 2019
Not quite 5 stars but rounding up for the humor and prose and overall otherworldly-ness of it all.

This is one book I will have to have on my shelf so that I can revisit at least once a year.
Profile Image for Efka.
453 reviews253 followers
December 25, 2018
I'll be brief, because there's really not much to say - despite a couple of interesting ideas, this book left an impression of repetitive, monotonous read, with quite too much pacifism for my taste and generally a sense of a kind of failed utopia. I know, complaining that a sci-fi is not "real" enough seems awkward, but that's what I felt. This book seemed too naive, too... artificial, too fake or at least not genuine enough. And all that Galaxy Central's politics reminds me current wave of multiculturalism politics in EU, which, in my opinion, have failed and reading about it in a sci-fi book was a bit strange.

Now I might have gone into negatives too much, as certainly this book wasn't that bad. I kind of enjoyed it, but shelling out those 3 stars I just gave makes me feel a generous person.
Profile Image for Claudia.
954 reviews533 followers
November 24, 2016
My first read of Clifford D. Simak and what a pleasure this was!

Some of these old sci-fi books usually lose their flavor in time, because the new ones are simply amazing with all the new technology and concepts brought. Not the case with one.

Through the astounding ideas for those years (new type of teleportation, some truly strange alien species, the whole concept of the way station) it deals mainly with human nature and its inclination toward destruction. But it does not lack the bright side of it – the beauty of Earth, of its people which are worth fighting for. It also shows how each and every one of us, no matter how small or faulty we are, can have a big contribution in keeping peace.

I also loved his writing style, which is so fluent and with a warm I did not encounter in many other works.

Bottom line? A jewel of a book.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
July 2, 2010
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Clifford Simak deserves to be remembered along side the giants of Science Fiction writers. His unique blend of pastoral settings, "middle America" characters and deeply emotional plots that explore important questions about the human condition is something special and places him firmly within the "must read" category. This is arguably his finest novel (along with the excellent City) and I highly recommend it.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1964)
Profile Image for Rachel (Kalanadi).
722 reviews1,406 followers
October 2, 2016

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak was originally serialized under the name Here Gather the Stars. It won the 1963 Hugo Award, and it's one of the first books I read in my renewed push to read all the Hugo and Nebula winners by the end of 2016. I am extremely glad I read this now. I am about to read many novels from the 50's, 60's, and 70's, and I have sometimes dismal expectations of the qualities of older science fiction. But Way Station was really, really good.

Enoch Wallace is a Civil War veteran who hasn't aged since 1865. After the war, an alien recruited him to man a way station on Earth for a galactic federation's transit network. They converted his family's farmhouse into the station, inside of which time seems to run differently. He only ages for an hour each day when he takes a walk to collect his mail and chat to the mailman. In 1961, a CIA agent stumbles upon the story of the local man in Wisconsin who hasn't aged in 100 years and investigates.

When the CIA agent explores Enoch's family cemetery, he comes across two normal headstones - for Enoch's parents. And the third? The inscription on it startles him, and he takes the buried body. Only, taking this body has repercussions for humanity, the galactic federation, and possibly humanity's chance at the stars, which Enoch has been so carefully, solely paving a way towards. Enoch has to recover this body, which he buried with respect and dignity.

The story beautifully weaves between Enoch's past and present. It's quiet. Enoch is an old-fashioned man, in his habits and thoughts. He also lives at a far remove from the modern world, though he is progressive in some respects. It takes an extreme transgression to rile him up and get him to abandon his routine.

There are many classic sci fi stories about how humanity wishes to become a space-faring race, and generally an alien species arrives to gift humans with uplift or an invitation. Childhood's End by Clarke, for example. Way Station is similar to this tradition (and here I know I speak with very little knowledge!), but I think it's beautiful in its approach.

The unusual bit is that Enoch is a normal man. He is actually more normal than most protagonists I've ever read in a science fiction novel, which so often are about the starship captains, the brilliant scientists, and frankly, the privileged few. Here, alien contact and humanity's future is not directly in the hands of scientists or government bureaucracy! It hangs on one man's choices and actions. It lacks hubris or arrogance or even grandiose gestures. Privilege is there, I suppose, but it's very unconscious. Once again, Enoch is old-fashioned, and the older courtesies play a part here. He possesses some admirable qualities of dignity and respect, well evidenced by how he tries to mindfully accept even the most outlandish, disturbing, or grotesque alien species he meets as station master. He wishes to befriend them and learn from them, to well-represent and provide for his species.

Since this is older SF, let's talk about the ladies. I have good things to say here. Let's start with the baseline: This is a white male story. All the aliens are presented as male. Almost all the humans are male. But there are two female characters.

First is Lucy Fisher, the mute-deaf daughter of what I can only describe as poor Wisconsin white trash. She's Enoch's neighbor and they meet on friendly, equitable grounds. She can't communicate, and yet they still talk. She has a hint of strangeness, etherealness, to her. Enoch suspects she can detect or feel something special. Lucy plays far more of a role than just a damsel in distress (Enoch does have to rescue her from familial abuse at one point), and her importance in the critical moments at the end surprised because I truly thought it would be Enoch to play this role! I want to note that I was also genuinely, happily surprised that Enoch does not see her as a love interest. She's not right for him. He appreciates her youth and attractiveness, but honestly I think he views her as a child. And he should. He's 100 years older than she is! He may contemplate but never act on any attraction.

The other character is Mary, one of the two "holographic" characters that Enoch has imagined using alien technology. Mary is an amalgamation of two women from his past: a striking, strong Southern belle he glimpsed during the Civil War and a woman that he was going to marry, but who married someone else while he was at war. His love for this holographic woman is unrequited. When she and the other holograph reach sentience, they turn away from him - with reasons. And once again, she is not the typical love interest. There's a rather heart breaking decision that she and Enoch come to about their relationship. Mainly, I think, that it is unbalanced love. And she is the one who says it first. She makes that decision.

Enoch is a lonely, solitary man, because of and despite his job as station master. He's cut off from humanity because he must keep secrets. His closest human bonds are with his mailman and Lucy. He has lost everyone else, even though he seems to care so much about humanity as an abstract whole. He meets a constant stream of aliens and has good, cheerful times of comradeship with many of them, but still something is missing.

This is humane science fiction. Enoch Wallace was a good man and a good character. In the 1960's, this is the type of man I'd want to be our ambassador to the stars. In 2016, I think he'd still be in the running for the job!

Profile Image for Daniel Montague.
209 reviews16 followers
January 11, 2023
“It had been in that moment that he realized the insanity of war, the futile gesture that in time became all but meaningless, the unreasoning rage that must be nursed long beyond the memory of the incident that had caused the rage, the sheer illogic that one man, by death or misery, might prove a right or uphold a principle.” P.160

“So long as it could not happen, it was a thing to dream about. It was romantic and far-off and impossible. Perhaps it had been romantic only because it had been so far-off and impossible.” P. 223

“She was one who dwelt apart in an old and lost apartment of the natural world. She occupied a place that Man long since had abandoned, if in fact, he’d ever held it.” P. 42

There are many reviews which flow like manna from Heaven and others that feel like pulling teeth, unfortunately this feels like the later. Not through the fault of the story, by the author, Clifford D. Simak nor by his vessel in telling it, the protagonist, Enoch Wallace do I find the challenge but in trying to convey the breadth and density of it, does it befuddle me. It is a story wrapped in contradictions and is written as such. How can a story in which warfare and galactic destruction weigh so heavily be so devoid of conflict? How can a book written with such rich prose and verbal dexterity plod along in a snails’ pace throughout? How can a simple man like Enoch be entrusted with keeping an intergalactic way station? Lastly and most importantly, how can a science fiction story portray the walking contradiction that is mankind in such a beautiful and brutal manner? As you can tell, this is a story that invites more questions than answers and as such a deeper examination than I can give it, but I shall try.

The focal point and for much of the book, the only character is Enoch Wallace. He is a veteran of the U.S Civil War who despite being over 120 years of age has the appearance of a man in his late 20s. How has a man living in the middle of rural Wisconsin found the fountain of youth? Well, for the last 100 years or so, his childhood home is also the domicile for groups of intergalactic travelers who use it as a way station. This sanctuary is protected from both weapons of destruction and from the rigors of time by a force field. While, in this location Enoch is ensconced from the constraints of Earth. Not only does he not age but he also gets to act as the Earth’s one and only ambassador. Sounds like a pretty sweet gig.

For eternal life and vast knowledge, Enoch must live a life largely devoid of human interaction. His one daily interaction with a person is with the mailman, Winslowe Grant, who acts as his de facto delivery service, providing him with food and any munitions. As a person who has seen much bloodshed due to his infantry role in the Civil War and has seen all of his loved ones long since passed he has largely come to grips with his isolation. In addition, his lifestyle as a caretaker for alien vagabonds prevents him from bringing home people lest they blow up the whole opaque nature of the operation. It is this bargain of procuring superior knowledge and eternal life for the loss of human interaction that is the chief conflict.

Paralleling, Enoch’s own precarious mental state is an issue he is ignorant of, which is the ongoing struggle to retrieve a sacred object which holds the key to preventing the elimination of Earth’s way station and to potentially intergalactic annihilation. To unlock this medallion someone with supernatural gifts must possess it. In a convenient stroke the one person who has entered Enoch’s home in the last 100 or so years, Lucy a deaf-mute has some amazing attributes. Much like Enoch she is isolated from society and as such has developed her unique way of understanding the world. She has a purity that Enoch not only envies but is fascinated by. Her father, a mean drunkard is not exactly a man of reason, and as such is suspicious of Enoch and what he is hiding. To further his hatred, during a drinking spell he assaulted Lucy who took refuge with Enoch. Long on time and memory, Enoch has made a lifelong enemy who wishes to expose him and his odd way of life.

Even with so much on the line, the story unfolds in a deliberate manner. The prose is syrupy without being sentimental and the conclusion is hopeful but not absurd. The prevailing mood is one of isolation and of making sacrifices for the betterment of mankind. Enoch, a hardworking and kindhearted man has been granted powers and responsibilities that seem unbefitting him. For some 100 years he has acted as an envoy for a diverse group of aliens, even befriending one that he calls Ulysses. For this honor, he has lost a large piece of what makes being human so terrific, the ability to share your life and experiences with another. Even with its slow-pace and some overly convenient plot points, the strong descriptions, quotable text and ability to make me ruminate in such a contemplative manner, ensures this a high 4 just missing out on 5 stars.
Profile Image for Martin Doychinov.
437 reviews26 followers
March 10, 2019
В затънтено американско градче живее един отшелник, общуващ само с пощальона и нямата дъщеря на съседите. Хората го приемат като някаква месдта чудатост, но никой не го е еня кой знае колко. Агент на ЦРУ (действието се развива през осемдесетте години) открива, че Инок Уолъс на практика е на около 140 години, въпреки, че изглежда като на трийсетина. Това, което никой не знае е, че той е управителя на междинна станция в новопостроен край на галактическата система за пътуване, която обслужва хиляди раси. Не и хората, обаче... Те все още не са готови за присъединяване към тази миролюбива общност (приятно разнообразие, насред хилядите произведения, описващи войнствени извънземни). На плещите на човека пада огромна отговорност, която го изважда от принудителната му самота.
Много има тук за самотата, отговорността, и най-вече - човечността! Макар и публикувана през 1963-а, това ни най-малко не личи, а наградата Хюго е съвсем заслужена!
Profile Image for Велислав Върбанов.
381 reviews29 followers
March 18, 2023
„Там сред звездите имаше огромно количество знания, част от които бяха продължение на човешките, но останалата се отнасяше до области, за които Човек дори не подозираше, че съществуват, и се използваше за цели, които Човек все още не можеше да си представи. А можеше и никога да не се сети, ако трябваше да разчита само на себе си.“

„Междинна станция“ е изключително стойностна и приятна книга! Чрез нея Клифърд Саймък ни напомня, че не бива да се притесняваме от контакт с чуждопланетни цивилизации. За да живее по-добре и постигне разбирателство с други форми на живот, човечеството трябва да преодолее дълбокия си страх от всичко непознато в родния край, който го води към разрушителна агресия.

Инок Уолъс от години живее сам и не се отдалечава своята къща, както и избягва да се среща с други хора. Той комуникира само с пощаджията и глухонямото момиче Луси. Инок е 124-годишен, обаче изглежда на около 30, тъй като отдавна е спрял да остарява. Агентът на ЦРУ Луис започва разследване, когато научава за този загадъчен случай... Всъщност, къщата на Инок е превърната в междинна станция за галактически пътешественици от най-различни цивилизации, а той е единственият представител на човешкия род, с когото те общуват...

„Хоризонтите ни са безбрежни, а не виждаме по-далеч от носа си, помисли си той. Дори и днес, когато огнените ракети, излитащи от Кейп Канаверал, се опитват да разкъсат древните окови, толкова рядко мечтаем за тях.“

„Тя принадлежеше на горите и хълмовете, на пролетните цветя и есенния прелет на птиците. Тя познаваше тези неща, живееше сред тях и по някакъв странен начин беше част от тях. Тя живееше сама в едно от онези древни, отдавна забравени селения на природата. Обитаваше място, което Човек отдавна бе напуснал, ако изобщо го е заемал някога.“

„После видя очите и те заличиха впечатлението от всичко останало. Бяха големи и благи, озарени от светлината на разума, очи, които търсеха досег с него, както друго същество би протегнало ръце в знак на дружелюбие.“

„— Мога ли да ви предложа едно кафе? — обърна се Юлисис към Сияйния.
— Кафе?
— Изключително вкусно питие. Най-великото творение на Земята.“

„— За паметната плоча. И какво пише на нея. Не предполагах, че знаете нашия език.
— Доста отдавна го учих. Исках да прочета едни свитъци. Страхувам се, че не го знам много добре.
— Две правописни грешки — уточни Сияйният — и един малко тромав израз. Но тези неща нямат значение. Но е от значение — и то от голямо значение, — че когато сте го писали, сте мислели тъй, сякаш сте един от нас.“

„Дали пък войната не бе резултат на някакъв вроден инстинкт, което би означавало, че обикновените хора носят същата отговорност като политиците и тъй наречените държавници? Звучеше невероятно, но, изглежда, у всеки човек бе заложен войнственият нагон, желанието да бъде агресивен, странното влечение към съперничество, които, ако бъдеха оставени да се развият докрай, неизбежно биха довели до едни или други конфликти.“

„И тъкмо от тяхната литература бе усвоил изкуството на приказната реалност. Те му бяха подарили пирамидата с цел да му помогнат, а той не ги бе разбрал. Бе станала комуникационна грешка — нещо толкова обичайно. Във вавилонското стълпотворение на галактиката бе твърде лесно да не разбереш или просто да не знаеш нещо.“
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,887 reviews1,923 followers
Want to read
September 13, 2019
An adaptation is underway for genre powerhouse Netflix! Now may this be the one that breaks the Netflix-Original Curse of Crappiness (eg, Another Life, the mediocre reboot of Lost in Space).
Profile Image for Donna.
541 reviews181 followers
January 26, 2016
This novel, classified as pastoral science fiction, won the Hugo Award in 1964. Pastoral science fiction is pretty much just as it sounds, with a science fiction story taking place on Earth in a rural environment in which an alien presence intrudes. Simak's books aren't hard science fiction, but they take a hard look at what Mankind has done and will do to itself with technology and weaponry too advanced for it, ethically and morally speaking. This is because The Cold War had a big effect on Simak who wrote many of his books in reaction to the rise of nuclear power and atomic weapons during his day, his characters seeking answers on how to handle the fear these questionable advances instilled and the responsibility inherit in their use. So at its heart, this book is a cautionary tale that goes light on the preaching and weaves together elements of a fairy tale that are all wrapped up with a science fiction bow.

This story, which takes place in the Wisconsin countryside during the 1960's, is told from the viewpoint of Enoch Wallace, a Civil War veteran who looks as if he's still in his 30's, and hasn't aged a day since coming back from the war, however impossible that must seem. There is a very good explanation for this which I won't spoil. But it has to do with Enoch's job of running a way station for aliens traveling through Earth's arm of the galaxy. The aliens transport themselves to Enoch's old family home which is used as a stopover where the aliens may rest and shed their old selves before reconfiguring into replicate bodies that will travel on.

Enoch lives a solitary life by necessity as his job cloaked in secrecy dictates. A job that an alien he has named Ulysses has recruited him for, over a hundred years ago. Still, Enoch visits with the many aliens who pass through his way station as much as their differences from human beings allow. And he gains a certain comfort and companionship from these interactions, while gaining much knowledge that he puts to use after recording his experiences in his journals. But the newspapers and magazines that he subscribes to, with their talk of war amid the peace talks, put a damper on his isolated and mostly placid life, especially when he determines through a special alien method of calculation that Earth is heading for a nuclear holocaust. As he struggles with this dismal forecast, wondering if he could be mistaken, a stranger intrudes who could ruin not only the establishment of the way station, but possibly galactic peace between the aliens and Mankind.

This story is a slow-paced, but thought-provoking one that presents the battling questions between science and ethics, intolerance and brotherhood, action and inaction, among many others. The language used in the writing is deceptively simple when conveying Enoch's thoughts on many a complex issue. And at times, it's poignant such as in this passage at the beginning when Enoch reflects on the waste of war:

"There was wheat that would never be harvested, trees that would not bloom when Spring came round again, and on the slope of land that ran up to the ridge of words unspoken and the deeds undone and the sodden bundles that cried aloud the emptiness and the waste of death."

But sometimes, this book became repetitive and was a bit too even-keeled for me. That is, until a sharp turn in the story or a climactic event came showering down upon it like a meteor to surprise me. There were two scenes that affected me this way in particular, one involving target practice and one involving a very smelly rat. But most of all, what I came away with after reading this story was a humanistic portrait of Enoch Wallace, living a life in limbo, halfway between heaven and hell. There were so many fine details that fleshed him out, but I won't name them. Discovering these little gems buried, but sparkling within the story, are for each reader to unearth. And the conclusion, while not completely to my taste, was satisfying overall.

I will definitely be reading more by this author in the future, and I also recommend another of his highly acclaimed books, City.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,649 reviews1,690 followers
March 6, 2020
"And yet he had learned to submerge that sense of horror, to disregard the outward appearance of it, to regard all life as brother life, to meet all things as people."

I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. "Golden Age Sci-Fi" isn't always something that personally resonates with me. A lot of it is very dated, or rooted in the time period it was written in, or focuses on ideas and themes that aren't as interesting to me as more modern sci-fi. But this book feels almost timeless, and though I don't usually care about the prose of a book as much as I do its ability to make me care for its characters and what happens to them, and it's ability to put a well-structured story arc on the page, this book was absolutely beautifully written in parts. I had the Kindle version (currently free on Kindle Unlimited!) and I highlighted just a bunch of beautiful shit. (I then stupidly returned the book, and because I'm maxed out at my ten book limit right now, can't get at those highlights.)

Anyway, this book was just lovely. I'm very tempted to bump up my 4.5 stars to a full five.

So, the book! Way Station is set in the 1960s, when tensions between the US and the USSR are high. Government officials have become aware of a man in rural Wisconsin who seems to have been born in the 1800s, and who was a soldier in the Civil War. As if it weren't weird enough that this would make the man around 130 years old (if not older), he doesn't seem to have aged a day since 1865. The government sends out men to investigate, snoop around, really, and find out what the man's deal is.

Enoch Wallace is indeed a Civil War veteran, and for the past 100 years, he has tended a secret galactic way station. Alien beings from all over the universe use Earth as one of many stopping points on their journeys, and it's Enoch's job to host them, care for them, and keep the station in working order. It's a solitary job, and one he must keep secret from everyone else on Earth, but in return Enoch has been exposed to learning and culture far beyond that of Earth, he doesn't age as long as he is inside the station, and he has made friends from places so far away he can't even imagine it.

The main conflict of the book comes when Enoch's two worlds begin to collide. His seemingly eternal existence, and the fate of the station, are jeopardized when the loss of a precious alien item coincides with the Earth threatening to descend into mutually assured destruction, jeopardizing the future of the human race not only on-planet, but its ability to join the galactic community of enlightened beings.

I liked this book because of the way it mixed the sadness and beauty that is the ephemerality of life with a hopefulness for the future, and a belief that all beings are good, and should treat one another with respect, endeavoring to understand one another's differences rather than to react with fear. It wasn't rosy naivete. I really want to track down a nice copy of this book, because I'll definitely be revisiting it in the future.

[4.5 stars, rounded up, fuck it, I'm doing it]
Profile Image for Lena.
1,144 reviews241 followers
September 17, 2018

The book started out with the protagonist executing two horses in anger over his father’s death. The horses had nothing to do with it. It was dark and petty and predisposed me to disliking this book.

The raccoon torture scene described sealed my dislike.

Then I started thinking about the way the women were portrayed.

There's Mary, the sentient hologram created solely for the protagonists pleasure.

“She had been an ideal and perfection. She had been his perfect woman, created in his mind.”

Instead of railing against the injustice for her existence Simak insists she loves her creator, her enslaver. Unlike all of the male sentient holograms.

Then there’s Lucy, the beautiful deaf-mute neighbor. Simak has written her as refusing education.

“What good to her the hand alphabet or the reading of the lips if they should take from her some strange inner serenity of spirit?”

I felt so low reading this. What does it say to the disabled? What does it say to women?

This kind of misogyny is poisonous.

If this had been my first Simak I would have two star dismissed the author. He’s too old to know better, isn't that the American way? Too old to know not to grab the pussy. Just forgive the old patriarchy.


Because I've read City by Simak, a beautiful environmentally sensitive novel with expansive ideas written a decade before.

Way Station was beyond a disappointment, it was a betrayal. I hated it. I want it out of my life.

DNF @ 54% Returned to Audible for a full refund.
Profile Image for Bryan Alexander.
Author 4 books275 followers
August 3, 2018
I read this when I was a kid, and reread it this year because a low-cost ebook version crossed my screen.

Since I've spent almost two decades living in the woods, the novel now strikes me as enormously powerful and moving. I've been reading some out loud to my wife and fellow homesteader.

Way Station's core idea is that a man lives in a remote house, but the house is actually a disguised node in a galactic travel and communication network. Simak sets up quite a stage around this core idea, with a good range of characters and some world-building. It's a simple idea, really, and I can imagine (although I don't know if it happened this way) the author thinking it up during a wilderness hike. Maybe Simak saw a house that looked unusually well kept up, and daydreamed that it was more, much more than it appeared.

The plot concerns outsiders figuring out the house's real purpose, as well as challenges facing its occupant, the well named Enoch Wallace. I don't want to say much more because of spoilers, but also because it's not a novel of suspense and plot-driven mystery. It's a reflective book, spending most of its time with conversations or with solitary people thinking and working.

A key theme is the power and beauty of the countryside, and this is a theme whose power has only grown since the novel appeared, as more and more of us have migrated away from rural areas, preferring instead suburban and urban domains. Simak uses Hemingway-ish prose to quietly sketch the beauties of woods and streams, cliffs and open night skies:
He went down across the field and through the strip of woods and came out on the great outthrust of rock that stood atop the cliff that faced the river. (39)
Two lovely scenes feature people giving others water to drink - one through "a cup fashioned of a strip of folded birch bark" (44) - as a sign of their character. There's an unvarnished argument about city folk learning from the country, learning enough to save the world, and that's one a 2018 reader might dislike. I'm reminded of Bradbury's love of the midwest. Rural science fiction is a thing.

A key plot point involves a local poor white family, including some awful men and an unusual woman. That ranges in tone from something like Steinbeck's naturalism to scenes of fantasy. It all worked well for me, but I don't know if people will charge Lucy Fisher (a fantastic name, a fisher of light) with being a manic pixie dreamgirl. The brief note about the Fishers occasionally proselytizing for "some obscure fundamentalist sect" (48) may better suit the modern reader.

Perhaps more resonant will be the narrator's identity as a (Civil War) veteran. Enoch was shaped powerfully by the experience of war, and Simak does a fine job of showing us the post-traumatic effects. There's a chapter (28) with a virtual hunting game (very prescient!) which doesn't do much for the plot, but works with that aspect of surviving war. That personal war experience leads to the novel's concern with humanity's evolution, an American science fiction chestnut. Will post-WWII humans stupidly destroy ourselves and/or aliens? (The Day the Earth Stood Still is 1951, just 13 years ahead of Way)

Some reviewers will find this slow-moving, which astonishes me. The entire book is barely 200 pages, and manages to cram in a lot of ideas.

Ultimately the genre of the novel is a bit elusive. Yes, there's a science fiction frame and it's realized in some detail, with a plot point turning on alien math and multiple alien biologies to consider. But the fantasy elements are strong. Lucy appears as supernatural, thinly veiled by a glimpse of alien science. Enoch entertains literal ghosts from his past, similarly explained by a light touch of extraterrestrial super-science. Meanwhile, there are scenes drawing from horror, most impressively the first encounter between Enoch and Ulysses, his galactic handler.

One last note: I don't usually say this about stories, but there's a mythic aspect to the plot. A key development concerns proper burial rites, and while that connects nicely with contemporary (1960s) anthropological science fiction, the rituals and forms are vital on their own terms. There's a touch of Antigone in those Wisconsin woods.

I can be a cynical fiend who loves horror stories, but I am still moved by the novel's final optimism. Simak's handling of it reminds me a bit of the crucial scene in Watchmen when Dr. Manhattan is logically convinced that humans matter after all (and remember how the final image in that storyline is an honest smile?). Maybe I'm just a soppy Slav who cries too easily, but I love passages like this when they are set up as brilliantly as Simak does:
The assurance would be there, he thought, the assurance that life had a special place in the great scheme of existence, that one, no matter how small, how feeble, how insignificant, still did count for something in the vast sweep of space and time. (81)

Now I want to read the Simak I've missed and reread the ones I have. You should, too.
Profile Image for Daniel.
753 reviews72 followers
April 23, 2015
Predivna knjiga puna finih ideja koje nisu često korišćene. Interesantni likovi, priča koja drži pažnju i što je najbitnije iako stara knjiga nema klišea ili sličnih gluposti i stvarno se nema ideja kako će se priča završiti ili šta će se sledeće desiti.

Po meni pravi klasik SF-a i nešto što bi trebalo svako da pročita.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
948 reviews89 followers
March 17, 2013
I was excited to find out that Simak is a Wisconsinite as well. This book is nice and tight. Not over long and keeps you engaged, despite a writing style which seems leisurely.

Here's a longer review I wrote for StarShipSofa blog:

Prompted by the lads here at StarShipSofa and by the fact that Simak is a SF author who I'd never heard of from my home State of Wisconsin, and by the fortuitous happenstance of visiting a friend who had 5 or 6 Simak novels on her shelves, I decided to read Way Station. I am so glad I did! It's really a wonderful little book with lots to satisfy all types of SF fans. There are plenty of gadgets for the techie fans and there's plenty of philosophising for the fans of Soft SF.

Way Station is the story of Enoch Wallace, who, in 1967 is about 120 years old. He comes to the attention of some government officials in Intelligence, who just can't seem to figure him out, but suspect that he is much more than meets the eye. They are right. He's the Gate Keeper or Station Master of an intergalactic station for travelers on long trips between member worlds. Earth is not a member and Enoch is the only person on Earth who knows about the station and indeed the extra-terrestrial world itself. While inside the station he doesn't age, which accounts for the fact that he looks 30 years old although everyone outside knows he is an American Civil War Veteran, or so the legend goes by this time. He has met many aliens over the course of the years and learned much about the universe, but there is still so much he doesn't know or understand. For almost 100 years his neighbors, few and far between as they are, have left him alone. Such is the way of life in rural South-Western Wisconsin. Now, however, a meddling government agent has stirred things up. Things seem to be coming to a head, not only in Enoch 'sown little world, but on Earth as the world appears to be heading towards war yet again, and also within the Galactic Collective itself.

Enoch is very contemplative, which seems fitting for someone who spends most of his time alone. This appears to be common in Simak's writing though. Some of the themes he contemplates are: war and the futility of it; the vastnesss of the universe and of the intelligence within it; the idea of a universal life-force or God, which seems to have been proven as fact in the Galactic Collective; Earth's place in the universe and Enouch's place in the world as "Earthman" and the person who represents Earth. This last theme spoke to me. I identify with Enoch as a displaced person, someone who can't escape his heritage (Enoch's as a person of Earth, mine as an "American") but by nature of his contact with the universe boyond Earth (and mine outside the United States), he has become more than (or simply different to?) an Earthman.

This book is brief - probably what would be considered a novella these days - but it is dense. Full of ideas and imagination, dense but imminently readable. Simak wraps things up admirably at the end, weaving the many seemingly random threads of narrative and ideas into a beautiful tapestry.
Profile Image for Monica.
592 reviews621 followers
October 10, 2022
A classic! I liked it more than City. Clifford D Simak is easily one of the most interesting of the Grand Masters of Science Fiction. He's very good at world building and characterization. More to come...

4 Stars

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Profile Image for Иван Величков.
949 reviews62 followers
October 14, 2018
Книжката е от онези десетина на Галактика излезли след 89 година в по-малоброен тираж и изключително трудни за намиране в момента. Може би за това съм я пропуснал.
Сега прочетена почти успя да измести „Градът“ от бетонираната му първа позиция в класацията ми за романи на Саймък. Не можа, защото двете са прекалено различни като размах, мащаби и чувство. Все пак, като хомо��енност тази е доста по-добре овладяна от „Градът“. Десетките малки идеи, които са запазена марка за по-дългите произведения на Саймък, тук са ограничени и впрегнати да служат на развръзката, вместо да я прекрояват, което прави „Междинна станция“ едно напълно завършено произведение без мозаична структура.
Инок е един необикновен отшелник, живеещ високо в планините на Уисконсин. Когато един агент на ЦРУ се заинтересува от необичайното му дълголетие, успява да разкрие невероятна история. Инок Уолас е пазител на междугалактическа Междинна станция и единствен представител на земята пред безбрежния съюз на разума във вселената. Той е вододел между два свята, нашият и огромното космическо пространство, изпълнено с хиляди разумни видове, и тази отговорност му тежи. Тежи, защото с натрупаните през годините знания вижда на къде се е запътило човечеството, а алтернативите предлагани от извънземните му приятели са крайни и неприемливи. За капак разумните същества във вселената не са лишени от алчност, упоритост и склонност към политически интриги, което може да лиши Земята от цялото многопланетно знание. Инок, обикновен съдържател на междинна станция, ще тряб��а да вземе прекалено сериозни решения за позицията и образованието си.
Саймък отново вкарва искрици меланхолична безнадежност, но този път има и надежда, въпреки че тя е малка и се базира на индивиди, за човечеството като цяло не вижда самоосъзнаване. По-скоро за пореден път предлага по-висша сила, която да го вкара в пътя, даже има няколко допуска по въпроса.
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