Thursday, September 3, 2015

Expedition to Earth, by Arthur C. Clarke

This review probably isn't going to be terribly long because once again I am reviewing a collection of short stories. And in this case it's a particularly short collection from one of the greats of science-fiction, Arthur C. Clarke. Now for my readers this book was originally published way back in 1953 so there have been many, many, many covers in its numerous reprints. I just decided to show the one for the kindle edition which I read. These short stories don't have an overarching plot like the Foundation short stories, but are simply a collection of Clarke's writings.

For those of you that aren't familiar, Arthur C. Clarke is seen as one of the "Three Greats" in the classic pulp era of science fiction, along with Isaac Asimov, whom I've talked about on this blog before, and Robert Heinlein, whom I have not. As someone who grew up reading a lot of my mom's old pulp sci-fiction novels I have a great amount of fondness for pulp works, especially older ones that may not have aged as well as other stories. In a way there was a relationship readers had with the Three Greats. Clarke was your badass science uncle who hung out in the garage with your badass science grandpa Asimov building robots and shit. Meanwhile, Heinlein was your creepy uncle who lived in a shack out in the woods in constant fear of the men from the government with his AR-15 and....lack of clothing for some reason. Whatever their foibles, and as people they certainly had a lot of those, they were prolific and influential writers.

Expedition to Earth contains a handful of stories from Clarke and in some ways kind of reminds me of The Twilight Zone, where the story leads up to a twist that you might not have been expecting. Of course, sixty years later the twists are easier to see coming in some of the stories, but that doesn't make the stories any less entertaining. And trying to guess the twist sometimes becomes part of the fun. However there were still a couple of stories that I honestly didn't see the twist coming and were pretty entertaining. Although some of the stories definitely have Cold War era fears, namely the threat of atomic war, that doesn't make them any less interesting to read.

Overall if you haven't read this book yet, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. It's fairly short so if you have a day where you're free and just want to read some short stories you can definitely get this one under your belt.

- Kalpar

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