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The Sentinel [Paperback]

Arthur C. Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1986 Masterworks of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Few masters of science fiction have brought us glimpses of the near future as vividly as Arthur C. Clarke. It is the startling realism of his vision that has made classics of his Childhood's End and 2001: A Space Odyssey -- and Clarke himself one of the genre's most successful writers.

To commemorate the fast-approaching arrival of one of the most notable dates in science fiction history comes this special anniversary edition of The Sentinel, a brilliant collection of Clarke's highest caliber short fiction. Among the ten stories included in this volume are:

"The Sentinel": The story that inspired 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the most famous SF movies of all time

"Guardian Angel": The rarely-glimpsed work that gave birth to Childhood's End

"The Songs of Distant Earth": A fantastic tale of first contact with an alien world, which became the basis for one of Clarke's most successful novels

"Breaking Strain": The inspiration for the popular book series Arthur C. Clarke's Venus Prime

With an introduction and notes by the author
Illustrations by internationally acclaimed visionary architect Lebbeus Woods
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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This version of The Sentinel is subtitled the 2001 Anniversary Edition, and to be pedantic one might ask, what anniversary? Rather more accurately, this is an edition for the intersection of the calendar with SF history, the most memorable date in fiction since 1984. "The Sentinel" is a short story, written in 1948 and only 11 pages long, renowned for providing a starting point for the greatest science fiction film ever made, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey:
So they left a sentinel, one of millions they have scattered throughout the Universe, watching over all the worlds with a promise of life.
There are eight other stories, each introduced by the author, who also contributes a substantial forward. The tales, illustrated with 11 excellent full-page black and white drawings by Lebbus Woods, span the length of Clarke's career as a professional short story writer, from 1945's "Rescue Party" to 1971's Nebula Award-winning "A Meeting With Medusa". This story forms a bridge of sorts between 2001 and 2010: Odyssey Two, which was as Clarke writes, "in some ways ... also a sequel to this story". As a wonder-filled tale of a meeting with the truly alien in the clouds of Jupiter it is unsurpassed. The book concludes with the original outline for a possible second SF film with Stanley Kubrick. The film wasn't made, but the outline became one of Clarke's most beautiful novels, The Songs of Distant Earth. This is essential reading, though dedicated fans will probably opt for the complete Collected Stories. --Gary S. Dalkin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

". . . this collection amply demonstrates Clarke's strengths -- expert storytelling, exciting science, rich characterizations . . . Clarke's humanism and sympathy for mystical concepts are apparent".

-- Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Nine Short Stories of Clarke Feb. 20 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book contains nine short science fiction stories written by Arthur C. Clarke in the early part of his career. They are a good sample of the themes of his larger body of writing. Two stories here were later expanded into full-length novels. "The Sentinel" became 2001: A Space Odyssey and "Guardian Angel" became Childhood's End. My three favorites are described below.

"Guardian Angel" follows the careful communications between Earth's representative and the leader of an alien delegation that has come to help us. As always, the devil's in details.

"Breaking Strain" is an interesting contrast to Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" published in 1954. It was written in 1948. Two spacefarers traveling to Venus survive a meteor strike to find their reserve oxygen gone--leaving not enough for both of them to reach their destination.

"The Sentinel" tells of an unexplained alien artifact uncovered on the Moon. As all Earth wonders who made this object, it creates quite an outcry.

The stories in this book are recommended as well-written and entertaining. I agree with another reviewer's recommendation to read them in The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke along with more stories by this science fiction Master.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the seeds of 2001 Dec 30 2000
Format:Paperback
In 1948, Arthur C. Clarke submitted a short story, The Sentinel, to a BBC contest; which he did not win. However, the story was published in the Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader in 1951, and in 1964 he returned to the story and began expanding it into a novel. He and the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick used this as the basis for a movie script which, in 1968, became 2001 : A Space Odyssey; for which both received Oscar nominations.
Especially considering the opacity for which the movie is notorious, the story is remarkably spare and straightforward. The narrator, a lunar geologist, recalls cooking sausage one morning at a research base on the Moon, when the rising sun revealed a metallic glimmer on the rock wall of Mare Crisium. He and a compatriot climbed the crater rim and found :
[A] roughly pyramidal structure, twice as high as a man, that was set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel.
Though they initially believed it to be a relic of a lost lunar civilization (notice it is much different than the black obelisks which were eventually used in the movie), they soon realized that it must have been placed there billions of years ago by an advanced race from another planet. It took twenty years, but finally they were able to penetrate a protective shield around the crystal by using atomic upon it. Now they understand the structure to have been a kind of sentinel, waiting to alert the beings who placed it there that finally the human race has achieved a sufficient level of development to be worthy of their notice.
I particularly like the way that this tale, written by a renowned futurist at the dawn of the space age, actually resonates with age old religious concerns.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bother, But Get Collected Stories Instead April 28 2004
By Stan
Format:Paperback
Being a Clarke fan since childhood, my first book was literally Childhood's End. I was looking forward to the re-release of this title, but I won't pay for a new intro when I have all these short stories elsewhere (The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke). I recommend Collected Stories to everyone contemplating buying The Sentinel. Collected Stories covers nearly every worthwhile short story that Clarke has published or you can buy a dozen or so shorter volumes with a lot of overlap. This single omnibus is a much better deal.
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