Also, this collection begins with an original foreword read by the author himself, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
This is a collection of unabridged selections from the hardcover book of the same name. Look for another collection called The Shining Ones next year, which will complete the collection in audio.
©2001 TOR; (P)2002 Audio Literature
"This may be the single-author s[cience] f[iction] collection of the decade, even though the decade has barely begun." (Booklist)
For Asimov fans, this collection is a nice group of stories. However, this edition is only HALF of the original book, and the other half of this edition was never published in that way. The listed description is actually from the original book, so some of the stories mentioned in the description are not included in this audio collection.
If you are wanting a good sampling of Clarke's short stories, this is one to buy. If you're wanting the complete collection of Clarke's short stories, you should instead purchase the five-volume set sold separately: The Lion of Comarre, Earthlight, The Nine Billion Names of God, Songs of Distant Earth, and The Shining Ones.
Clarke is more on the Hard SF side of things, which generally means that his characterizations are, shall we say, lacking. You have a hard time caring about most people you'll encounter in these... though you'll find the ideas compelling.
This is an uneven collection, featuring some excellent work and some iffy inclusions. Examples include his "White Hart" series which are really only shaggy dog stories ending in bad puns. Other stories are just preachy and predictable. In one introduction, Clarke states that he doesn't write message stories, and the one we are about to hear is one of his few. But message stories abound, mostly about how humanity is going to destroy itself (with twist endings easily seen, such as a child watching the rise of a planet destroyed by war... and that planet is Earth!! Gasp!). The very short closing story is another strong example of this tendency.
The readers are similarly uneven, some good, some adequate. A very big problem is the spacing of the stories. Many times, the stories end on a portentious note, and the next begins so close on its heels that you might think it's part of the same story. As some stories feature multiple narrators, this becomes even more confusing. Honestly, some start with less than a full breath's pause after the finish of the last, dampening the impact of a story's climax.
If you love hard SF, add a star.
I am very annoyed to find that this audio collection does not contain some of Clarke's most memorable works, including "The Lion of Comarre," "A Meeting With Medusa," "The Rescue Party," and perhaps the most famous of all, "The Star." The last two are mentioned by name in the "Publisher's Note," for gosh sakes! These particular stories are the reason I bought this collection, so I am quite dissatisfied.
It's always a pleasure to enjoy the clever and often thought-provoking prose of Arthur C. Clarke. Many of the storys included in this collection are true classics. Unfortunately, this abridged edition contains so little of of the complete text, admittedly an enormous compilation, that it's a bit like showing up for Thanksgiving and being offered a few tiny crumbs for dinner. Rather than releasing this as an abridged edition, I would have preferred that they release it as a periodical, including 5-10 stories every month in their full form. That could have kept us entertained for months on end... Oh well, the crumbs were small but tasty...
I have always been a fan of the short story form and Arthur C. Clarke. I was overjoyed to hear these tales. I had read one or two of them before, but hearing them interpreted by the readers made them come alive again. Even the science presented, although dated, was not too far from what is, or will be possible. I especially liked the mix of readers. The inclusion of a female narrator was wonderful.
The length of the stories worked for me as well. I found that I could listen to one, put the book down, and pick it up to hear another at some future time. I didn't lose a thing listening to the book that way. I even heard other books in between times. My wife has now started listening and she's enjoying it as well, even though she doesn't care for short stories or sci-fi. That speaks for itself.
This is just the wrong medium for the content. The collection includes some great stories and is a good history. But by virtue of being a history, it includes a lot of early (read: old style, much less skilled writer) works. That old science fiction is pretty tedious to hear, at oral reading speed, even when it is still pretty interesting to read yourself. Most of the classic "hard" SF short stories (including Clarke's) are based on one clever hook or twist, so (a) you figure it out before the punchline when you are consuming the story at aural speed and (b) the characters and everything else are secondary, making the prose tedious. The voices and cadence of the narrators make this reading even more tedious still. There are so many books that are are a joy to listen to. Listen to them and, if you can, read these stories on paper.
I thoroughly enjoyed the stories in this collection. It was very interesting to hear some of them in view of current scientific and political context. I highly recommend it.
Pros: Wonderful works by a Titan of Sci-Fi
Cons: The publishers split up the original collection into two seperate audio publications (part two due this year I gather)
That irritates me.... So, only 4 of 5 stars for that stunt.
A great selection of stories, read by a great selection of narrators. Well worth the time to listen.
These short stories are astonishingly fresh despite most of them dating from before man had landed on the moon. Sir Arthur C. Clarke introduces us to the first appearances of science fiction mainstays such as the matter transporter, the communication satellite, and intersteller arcs. The readers chosen for these audiobooks are clear and expressive. We even hear a few words from the author himself.
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