- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (May 30 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0586061940
- ISBN-13: 978-0586061947
- Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.7 x 2.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
The rest of this volume is more in line with other collections of essays Clarke has published, and suffers from most of the same weaknesses. For one thing, the level of repetition in these pieces gets tedious rather quickly, as a long series of articles describe the advantages of and history behind Clarke's main obsession of the period, a satellite-based system for surveillance of the earth's surface. Another point that is hammered home repeatedly is the predicted development of "electronic tutors": imagine a Game Boy except that instead of having fun with it, you learn from it. Of course this book was published before the personal computer revolution, so Clarke can be forgiven for not realizing that kids would know when a program was trying to teach them something, and quickly move on to something more entertaining. This is not to say that Clarke was wrong about the use of electronics for teaching, but rather that the development of machines whose sole function was teaching was unnecessary - modern PC's being versatile enough to be used for any number of purposes - but then, who among us was smart enough to foresee that?
Perhaps the best piece in the book is the entry detailing Clarke's (then) recent trip to the Soviet Union, coyly titled "To Russia, with Love..." and featuring the pacing, personalities, and ideas that make his fiction so interesting, but there is little else in the book this good. The weakest group of essays is on the subject that should be Clarke's strength - Space and Space travel. Most of this section had a decidedly historical bent to it to begin with, and the passage of another 17 years has only exacerbated the problem. Collections like this one may be interesting enough while they're still current, but too much of this material is either dated or completely unscientific.