Longtime fans of Arthur C. Clarke should be wary of Glide Path, a departure from his usually excellent science fiction fare. In this novel, Clarke looks back on the early days of World War II to recount the inside story of the research team that developed a radar talk-down system for pilots called GCD - Ground Controlled Descent. The hero is Flying Officer Alan Bishop, a trainer with experience in radio and radar, but not much else. Through Bishop's eyes we meet the scientists, engineers, and RAF officers whose combined talents were responsible for this valuable life-saving tool. The science is admittedly well out of date, but Clarke's real focus is not on the physics but on the human elements: Dr. Hatton, a biologist who sees the application that the physicists don't, Professor Schuster, the theoretical genius who designs the whole system but doesn't understand a voltage adapter, Flight Lieutenant Collins, whose upper-class dress and manners inspire nothing but derision, and especially Bishop, who talks down hundreds of pilots but has never flown himself. Clarke tries to fill out Bishop's story with scenes from his personal life, showing us his relationships with his father, his governess, and his lady friend, as well as his fellow officers, but in the tradition of British reserve, these chapters come off rather flat. He succeeds in fleshing out Bishop's character, but generally fails to endear him to the reader. Perhaps the real problem is that by focusing on Bishop the Everyman, he condemns his story to be equally mundane. Since so much of this book is about Bishop (it could be argued that this novel is his coming-of-age story), and only tangentially about the technology, Clarke needed to make us interested in Bishop's fate. By the novel's conclusion, though, we recognize that relatively little has actually happened to him. While clearly some character development takes place over the course of the novel, there is nothing especially suspenseful or even interesting about Bishop's progress into manhood. If the essence of a story is conflict, whom may we say Bishop is in conflict with? We get only the briefest of hints that there's actually an enemy out there. The best moments are the talk-down landings, where Bishop defies Nature and himself trying to do what was once thought impossible, but many more such moments would have been needed to make this book a real success. Instead this book is a pleasant piece of historical fiction, but it isn't meaty enough to be taken as seriously as Clarke perhaps intended it.