Armed with a staggering power and an infinite wisdom the invaders from outer space shock Earth into submission – but what is their purpose?
To mention any more of the story would be to give away key plot points and like film trailers, books are sadly not immune from giving things away before you even get to the main feature. Even my 1956 Pan edition gave some important things away but the newer copies are even worse. It’s a risky business this book buying.
I love this cover, it’s wonderfully dramatic and of its time and being one of those annoying fault picking people I can’t help but imagine the cost of the repair bill from the sonic boom that that ship appears to be causing.
There is something quaint about this book, with a familiar Cold War beginning and then the imagined future in which people are starting to watch three hours of TV a day! Clarke may be celebrated for preempting technological advances and such but he was pretty up on the social aspect as well. It doesn’t feel too archaic though, it’s a pleasant jaunt, a B-movie in a book or B-lit as I term it.
Once into the book, the familiar Clarke theme of our place in the universe, our journey through the stars and time if you will is explored. The scale of the notion is impressive, for most of the book these bigger scale concepts are largely played down in favour of the more human side of things, unlike the Rama series and the Odyssey books where the big ideas were the major focus. This difference in focussing makes for a more subtle approach to the stories of our civilisation and its adaptation to the new and the abstract.