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ARTHUR C CLARKE - OF TIME AND STARS




ARTHUR C. CLARKE - OF TIME AND STARS

(5 Short Stories)

The Author:

Arthur C. Clarke was born in Somerset in 1917 and is graduate of King's College, London.   During the second World War,  as an RAF officer, he was in charge of the first radar talk-down experi-mental trials. In 1945 he published the first technical paper laying down the principles of satellite communication. He is the author of over forty books and  many  articles; he won the 1961 Kalinga Prize, the 1965 Aviation-Space Writer's Prize, the 1969 Westinghouse Science Writing Prize, the Science Writers in America NEBULA (1972, 1974, 1979), a HUGO (1947) and the John  W. Campbell Award (1974); he also shared an 'Oscar' nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of '2001: A Space Odyssey'.



For many years now Clarke has lived in Sri Lanka and been involved in underwater exploration along that coast and along the Great Barrier Reef. He has been Chancellor of Moratuwa University, Sri Lanka, since 1979. Together with two other commentators he covered the lunar flights of Apollo 11, 12 and 15 for American CBS tele-vision.

(1) GREEN FINGERS

The Main Persons

* Vladimir Surov - the most famous Russian biologist, who understands English but doesn't know                                                                  enough to conversate with the others; behaves very strange.

* the teller of the story (his name isn't mentioned) - commander of the  British  space shuttle

* Henderson - a British geophysicist

* Commander Krasnin - the russian commander, very worried about Surov.

Outline of contents

Vladimir Surov is a very able and famous Russian biologist who is stationed on moon to do experiments. He has even built up a little hydroponic farm there, where he successfully grows dwarf trees and vegetables to nourish the Russian team. He attracts attention to the British commander because of his very peculiar behaviour: even in the tiny and tight world of a spaceship, he manages to be alone and sits in his corner, peering through a microscope or working on his notes. Though he is respected by the rest of russian crew.

One day the commander (who tells the story) sees Surov walking out in the open of the moon - by himself. This is forbidden, because it is very dangerous to go out alone because many accidents can happen which would be trivial if you were with a companion.

During the next two months, he is often seen walking alone until one day the British comander receives an emergency call by Kras-nin, the russian one. Of each of the three ships on the moon (there is also an American one) a search party is sent out and they are shocked when they find Surov lying dead on the ground, in front of a strange plant he had grown secretly, 'Surov's Cactus', a plant who can survive in vacuum and grow upon rocks. His helmet has been smashed by one of the plant's seeds, he had been shot at point-blank range by his own creation.

(2) 'IF I EVER FORGET THEE, OH  EARTH'             

The main persons

* Marvin - a ten year old boy

* his father

Outline of contents

Being ten year old, Marvin is taken 'outside' by his father for the fist time, since the entire mankind has to live subterranean after an atomic war. Though he has already seen the world on photographs and on TV, he is amazed by the stars, the landscape and the mountains, shining silver because of their radioactive pollution. 'Across a quarter of a million miles of space, the glow of dying atoms is still visible, a perennial reminder of the ruinous past.'

Only now the father begins to speak, he tells his son the story that he had heared so often before, but never really meant anything to him, for it was impossible for him to picture life on the planet, nor could he understand the life-destroying violence that has forced the few survivors to build up a colony under the Earth's surface, carrying in their hands the future of the race. Marvin understands that he himself will never be able to step outside and breath real air, but there is hope that his children's children will.

(3) WHO'S THERE?

The main persons

* Space Station Supervisor (name not mentioned) - an astronaut whose job is to sit all day long in the    Observation Bubble of the station and to supervise the space. He tells the story.

*  Tommy - a male (???) cat kept in the spaceship as a pet

Outline of Contents

A twenty-year old U.S. Air Force stray satellite that was lost through an accident is found. As it is a menace to navigation, the Supervisor has to haul it aboard. On his way to his locker, he passes Tommy, the recently acquired pet cat of the station and everybody's darling. Though he mews plaintively, the Supervisor has no time to play with him. After checking FORB (fuel, oxygen, radio and batteries), he starts off for his work, sealed in a tiny, mobile cylinder, with a superb view of the universe, but practically no freedom of movement in his suit.  Suddenly, he hears a strange sound he cannot identify. He panics and remembers that another astronaut had died very close to this place, through an accident with his suit. Because a spacesuit is too valuable to be thrown away, it is repaired and given to someone else - even if he has killed his wearer. As he calls Station to check his suit history but never finishes; something patts hin softly on the neck his forehead smashes against the control panel and he falls uncounscious. When he is waken up, he is the last one to know that the badly misnamed Tommy has hid her three little kittens inside his spacesuit.

(4) SECURITY CHECK

The main person

* Hans Muller - a peaceful craftsman with bavarian ancestors, living in NYC




Outline of contents

Hans' workshop in Manhattan consists of the dilapitated backroom of a warehouse. Having become a fan of the TV science fiction series Cpt. Zipp, he is disappointed of the poor furniture and weapons in the programme and decides to do it himself.

Everybody is fascinated with his work, done with a lot of love, and the series now becomes a great success. Despite of this, Hans works still alone in his little workshop. All he does is the prototypes and basic designs, the mass production is done somewhere else.

When he is working late one Sunday evening, he suddenly realizes that there is somebody inside his room: two men stand motionless besise the door, watching him. They tell him they are from Security and show him various photos - of Captain Zipp's space-ship, the Martian city of Paldar and at last the proton gun and ask him about it. Hans has to come with them to be investigated. He believes them to think he has shown something secret of the F.B.I. in the programme, but when he asks them about it, they do not even know what the F.B.I. is. But Hans cannot hear this, because just in that moment, he sees the spaceship

(5) FEATHERED FRIEND

The Main Characters

* Sven Olsen - a wiry little fellow, one of the best construction men on the spaceship

* Claribel - Sven's bird, a small female yellow canary who he has smuggled into the ship

* the teller of the story, also on the spaceship

Outline of contents

It is the storyteller who finds Claribel, that Sven had smuggled on board when she is whistling a melody behind his ear. First, Sven doesn't confess that it was him, but soon, she becomes a general pet and he gives in, though he claims, that he only did it of sheer scientific curiosity. One morning, she doesn't as usually wake him up and he finally finds her with her claws sticking up into the air. After she is given a shot of oxygen, she revives at once but then suddenly keels over again.

The teller remembers that miners used to carry canaries down to warn them of gas and that in the morning, he too felt in need of some oxygen because his brain seemed to be very slow. They found out that there is something wrong with the air: during an Earth's shadow, a part of the air purifier had fallen out and the single alarm in the circuit had fallen off. Half a million dollar's worth had let them down completely and without the bird, they all would soon have been dead.

Quotations of the book:

(a) 'Poor Vladimir!' he said. 'We knew he was a genius, yet we

    laughed at him when he told us of his dream. So he kept his

    greatest work a secret. () He brought life to the moon -

    and death as well.'                                  (p.38/39)

(b) That was the dream: and one day, Marvin knew with a sudden

    flash of insight, he would pass it on to his own son, here at

    this same spot with the mountains behind him and the silver

    light fromthe sky streaming into his face.             (p. 85)

(c) What happens to the soul of a man who dies between the stars,

    far from his native world? Are you still here, Bernie, clin-

    ging to the last object that linked you to your lost and dis-

    tant home?                                             (p.91)

(d) 'What is the FBI?' he asked.

    But Hans didn't hear him. He had just seen the spaceship. 

                                                           (p.187)

(e) We stared at each other for a minute; then, before I had quite

    recovered my wits, she did a curious kind of backward loop I'm

    sure no earthbound canary had ever managed, and departed with

    a few leisurely flicks. It was quite obvious that she'd

    already learned how to operate in the absence of gravity, and

    did not believe in doing unnecessary work.             (p.189)

Personal Opinion

Though this book is far away from being the best one I've ever read, I do like the stories. Most of all, I like the imagination of being without gravity or of walking on the moon and Arthur C. Clarke gives you a good impression of this, so therefore I like his stories.










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