3.0 out of 5 stars
Bottom of the barrel for Clarke, May 3 2004
Summary: This is a collection of short stories written by science fiction god Arthur C. Clarke. Most of them imagine a future world, and were originally published between 1950 and 1962, although a few are more recent.
In The Road to the Sea, a young man in a future earth visits a derelict city even as technologically advanced humans return from the stars to evacuate earth.
In Hate, a pearl diver with a grudge against Russia finds a recently submerged space vessel with a Russian astronaut trapped inside.
In Publicity Campaign, a peaceful alien race's visit to earth is made unpleasant by the unlucky timing of an immensely successful movie in which aliens arrive, War of the Worlds-like, to conquer earth.
In The Other Tiger, two men who are discussing the fact that in an infinite universe, all possible events must occur an infinite number of times are confronted with one of the least likely of events.
In The Deep Range, a future earth is imagined in which man's food and oil comes from culling whales, who are herded and bred in the tradition of old-style shepherding.
In If I Forget Thee Oh Earth, a young boy in a colony on the moon gets his first glimpse of a beautiful earth that he can never visit, as it is still spoiled by the effects of an atomic war.
In The Cruel Sky, two men who climb Mt. Everest using the world's first levitator packs get stolen by a storm and have to face a rough landing in the wilderness. While trying to come up with a plan for rescue, they are beset by a wild beast.
In The Parasite, a man from our time is visited by a mental parasite, a highly evolved, yet sadistic form of the human race that likes to view human suffering.
In The Next Tenants, a scientist on a remote island comes across another scientist who is grooming termites to be a competitor with humans for global dominance.
In Saturn Rising, an astronaut is approached by a hotel magnate who wants to build a hotel on one of Saturn's moons.
In The Man Who Ploughed the Sea, a trip in a homemade submarine leads the narrator to a scientist who has discovered the secret to mining gold and uranium from seawater.
In The Wall of Darkness, a very future earth (or perhaps another earthlike planet) is home to a race of humans who are prevented from exploring their planet by a mysterious wall of darkness that bifurcates the world.
In The Lion of Comarre, an intrepid genius sets out to rediscover a hidden Utopia in which machines put humans to sleep and ply them with images of their findest dreams.
In On Golden Seas, a US President decides to eradicate the deficit by mining the sea for gold.
Of all of these stories, the best are Hate and The Man Who Ploughed the Sea, which are, ironically, the least rooted in science. They have human stories that seemed mildly interesting, and that's the best that can be said of them. Hate is particularly good. In all the rest, the sci fi has taken over, apparently eclipsing the need for realistic characters, motivation, or plot. And the sci fi itself generally seems dull, rooted as it is in the decades before computing. Unlike in 2001, the writing is, as a rule, very stilted. A few of the ideas are interesting, but many of them have been done to death (like the idea of a scientist working with insects to conquer the world-yawn). If I wanted to get more stories like Clarke's masterpiece, 2001, I probably shouldn't have picked up Clarke's oldest, and therefore least polished, work.