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The Sentinel Paperback – Dec 1 1986


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Paperback, Dec 1 1986
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Berkley Pub Group (Mm); Reprint edition (December 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425093891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425093894
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER on Feb. 20 2013
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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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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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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