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Islands in the Sky

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,483 ratings  ·  102 reviews
The story of 'Islands in the Sky' centers around a young man, who, after brilliantly winning a space-related competition, requests a vacation on a space station as his prize. It is written with Arthur C. Clarke's obvious knowledge of science, but moves at a page turning rate througout the entire narrative. The short novel gives a realistic possiblilty of work and play in f ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published June 2nd 1981 by Roc (first published July 1st 1952)
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3.77  · 
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 ·  2,483 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Great example of classic "hard" SF, with lots of technical terminology, discussions of thrust and orbits and rockets and navigation, and near-misses with hull punctures, medical emergencies, and mishaps. Includes a very early jab at the idiocy of treating space as a garbage dump and launching nuclear waste and other trash into it. By today's SF standards it's pretty thin (ok, emaciated) in terms of plot, but given the time and context in which it was written it was probably considered jam-packed ...more
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sort of juvie SF that gives juvie SF a bad name. There is no overarching plot, just a series of episodes, each one of which would be too weak to stand on its own as a short story. Every situation just an excuse to lecture about some gizmo or natural phenomenon. Not that I don't appreciate the lectures, but... I'm pretty sure I read this when I was 10 or 11, and I imagine it enchanted me, but rereading it as an adult, I'm less than charmed.

The unlikeable main character is a quiet kid who is c
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Klasičan SF roman, uživala sam čitajući. Kakva imaginacija i vizionarstvo! Napisana davne 1952 godine!
Michael Brookes
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books that drew me into science fiction. That was about thirty years ago and it's been almost as long since I last read this book. Now there's always a danger when reading something pivotal in your childhood years that it no longer stacks up when you re-read it with adult eyes. Thankfully this didn't prove to be the case and I think I enjoyed more now that I have a more analytical mind - and it's still a cracking story to boot!

What attracted me then and still does is the solid
J.A. Dalley
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about the setting, the world that the main character lives in. As many people have commented nothing happens in this book. This is not an action book. However, I still really enjoyed it!

Clarke writes about a world where humans already have many space stations, colonies on the moon, and mars, and even exploration missions to mercury. Clarke clearly understands the way things work in space even though this was published in the 50's. Clarke describes the life of an average boy as he
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un classique de la SF qui m'a réellement chamboulé à certains moments autant qu'il m'a rempli d'ennui à d'autres.

Le style d'écriture est assez plat vu le ton employé puisque le narrateur raconte l'histoire de son séjour dans l'espace comme s'il écrivait un journal de bord, bien un journal intime, un mémoire ou une lettre (j'espère que vous voyez ce que je veux dire :P ).

Il ne se passe pas grand chose d'intéressant mais la force de ce roman est, à mon avis, dans les descriptions faites par Arthur
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is like sitting through a word-for-word description of a complete stranger's vacation. You're at a party, and as you are listening to him describe every little occurrence he came across on his journey, trip, and return home you find yourself wondering, "why not skip to the notable highlights?". By the end of his tale you realize it's because there aren't any. There's nothing necessarily unlikable about him, but also nothing overly likable about him either, and as you sit and nod your h ...more
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Arthur C. Clarke is a fantastic writer, so all of his books are good - but some are great. I honestly think that Islands in the Sky is one of his great ones.

Its dated, yes - but at no point is it so unbelievably dated that your mind can't stretch just enough to make it okay.

His choice of young protagonist is perfect, and I found myself 'reading' in a sort of Opie Griffith (Andy Griffith - Mayberry show) voice.

It was a quick read and all the better for that, I think. It gives you just a taste of
Islands in the Sky was originally published in 1952 and was one of the Winston Science Fiction juvenile series published in the 1950s. I remember reading this when I was in the 5th or 6th grade back in the early 60s along with others in the Winston series. I currently have a collection of most of the series and may reread some more of these soon.

This novel takes place in the last part of the 21st Century and the protagonist is sixteen-year-old Roy Malcolm who wins a science quiz program. His pri
Clarke's books seem to be focused more on concepts than on plot or characters, that's why I'm quite surprised how much I enjoy his work so far.
This includes a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts about space travel, life on a space station and colonies, told from the perspective of an interested and ambitious young man. It reminded me of "The long way to a small angry planet" in a way, even if it's noticeably much older and has less developed characters. Still, for such a short book, some minor
Scott Kardel
I may have read this back in my youth, but if I did it was so long ago that I had forgotten all of this vintage tale of space by Arthur C. Clarke. It is important to note that it was written in 1952, almost a decade before the first human traveled into space, yet Clarke had a keen understanding of the physics of orbits, landing, etc. and turns the details into a nice tale of a teenager who wins a trip into space that's not horribly dated. 3.5 stars.
Denzil Pugh
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When George Lucas was filming the first Star Wars film, and the government authorities had to take a look at the plans for the X-Wing fighter to determine whether government secrets had been leaked out, they missed the boat by about 30 years. Science fiction writers had been guessing the state of things for ages, and it's truly a remarkable experience to see just how right they were. I just read the late Arthur C. Clarke's Islands in the Sky, and was fascinated with the intricate descriptions of ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I could get behind the idea of the story having no tension. It could be like a hypothetical documentary, where under the pretext of a kid going on a vacation in space, we get lots of explanations regarding how travel works or how people live on other planets.

What I can’t forget is the constant fake scares found on almost every chapter. There is some sort of crisis going on that can endanger their lives that is proven to be a misunderstanding or a lie every single time. It’s like the author knew
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Written in 1952, half this book is outdated and the other half has come almost exactly true.
Sean Lavan
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As he does with a lot of his stories, Clarke is essentially using the premise (young man wins a contest which allows him to travel to an active space station) as a playground to explore his different ideas about life in space orbiting Earth. Some of the ideas seem a little ho-hum nowadays. But then I sit back and remember that this book was published in 1952. That was five years before Sputnik and nine years before Gagarin completed his orbit around Earth. None of the ideas would have seemed ho- ...more
Mimi Wolske
First, I'd like to provide a little "space" history paraphrased from NASA:
PICTURE IT! 1957, the U.S., the Soviet Union (the USSR today called Russia), the Cold War.
The Soviet Union launched the world's first satellite, Sputnik.
USA was afraid of Soviets gaining control of space and the problems that could present re: possible war from space.
Americans hastily finish a rocket being built
The world watches blows up
Newspapers around the world make fun of President Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, on
Jessica Meats
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was just dull. It's the story of a teenaged boy who wins a trip to a space station, but there's no sense of overall plot. There are some incidents but none of them are particularly exciting, despite the attempts to build up suspense at the end of chapters.

When there are moments where the excitement levels raise, it's never the protagonist who deals with them and any sense of danger gets undercut. For example, there's a "meteor strike" which turns out to be a teaching exercise and it's
Paul Grover
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first read Islands in the Sky when I was 12 or 13. I recently read it again some 35 years later.

It's a really fun story, with some real science and a kind of lived in feel. I really like the way Earth Orbit is portrayed as a work place, not unlike an earth bound shipyard of factory. Overall the book has a very British, blue collar vibe.

In some ways the book shows its age in a lot of the working practices described seem to owe more to British Industry in the 1950s and 60s; but this is not a bad
Bryan Cebulski
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This and Arthur C. Clarke's other early novels are all so completely just okay. IMO they begin to show how Clarke's writing holds an enthusiasm and humanity that I think the other two of the Golden Age Big Three (Heinlein and Asimov) lack. Even his characters, who are no one's idea of three-dimensional, are allowed to be more imperfect and ordinary. Island in the Sky, alone with Sands of Mars and Prelude to Space, are charming and simple, more imaginative travelogues than novels. I find they'd w ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Should be called "Boy's Life in the Sky", but I don't say that to belittle it. This novel pre-dated Sputnik but still described accurately satellites in various orbits. The 1940's style is a little stilted for some, I'm sure, but it's where I found quite a bit of charm. It's always fun to read stories that predict a future that's in our past (e.g., exploration of Venus in 1985), but huge credit to Arthur C. Clarke for getting so much right and for clearly having so much fun in the process.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's old-science fiction, so we get things like creatures living on Mercury and space stations that can beam television programs all around the world. But it's fun. The way to handle these books is to view them as historic documents from an alternate universe in which people really did colonize the moon and find life there, and that their future has diverged significantly from ours. Why else would space be so male and white in 2070 or so?
Vegan Jon
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to Arthur C Clarke, especially for younger readers. His enthusiasm for mans triumph of technology in order to leave our planet is on full display here. The story is from a young boys point of view and the book is fun, exciting and fascinating - as a visit on a space station would be! His predictions or how it will work are very accurate and as a result the book is still fresh with only a few outdated ideas.
Ορφέας Μαραγκός
Διαβάζοντας το με έπιασε μια νοσταλγία. Αρχικά γιατί πρόκειται για έργο της λεγόμενης εφηβικής λογοτεχνίας, και έπειτα γιατί είναι εκδόσεις Κάκτος. Αυτό συνεπάγεται τα απαραίτητα τυπογραφικά λάθη, την απρόσεχτη μετάφραση αλλά και όλη αυτή τη νοσταλγική ατμόσφαιρα της Ε.Φ. στα ελληνικά τέλος '70 αρχές '80. Στην υπόθεση του η νουβέλα αυτή είναι το όνειρο κάθε έφηβου, δηλαδή να γίνει αστροναύτης και να ταξιδέψει στο διάστημα...
Dennis Hedrikson
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A rather straight forward "hard sci-fi" book best described as a 'boy's adventure.' Written in 1952, a rocket very similar in design to the Space Shuttle is used; geo-stationary orbit satelites used for communications are also introduced, as are various low earth orbit systems and rockets to the inner planets.
Ginny Machiela
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun read. This was written in 1952 and envisioned a world of open space travel within the solar system. The main character is a teen boy which gives the whole thing a wide-eyed charm. Amazing what Clarke was able to create in this story, more than a decade before we made it to the moon!
Amanda Ure
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a good book, but weirdly for a novel there is no tension, conflict or resolution. It's a travelogue of a space station, but a story nonetheless. This tends to happen with Arthur C Clarke but it's none the worse for it. It's just very oddly plotted.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Clarke is the man, but I think this book is only going to work for you if you are a tween science nerd living in the past. It is so cheesy and outdated and structure-less and full of conflict-free episodes.

You can see where Clarke was working out his {explain gravity and up-n-down outerspace confusion} that he would spill all over Rama, but there is just that here, and nothing meaningful or thematic or character-wise ever gets going.
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Enjoyable, realistic scifi.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story, one of the many I read as a teen. I love Clarke and this book is an excellent example of his talent to impress the reader.
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
..a lot of technical explanations which slowed the story a little but still, fascinating that it was written in the 50s with ideas that are still sound.
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Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King