Wednesday, February 03, 2010



Earthlight, Arthur C Clarke, Ballantine Books, 1955, 194 pp

When Arthur C Clarke died in 2008, I read enough articles about him to get interested and added him to my list of science fiction authors. Of course, he was best known for his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the movie version of his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. I never saw that movie back in the day, but when I watched it a few years ago, I have to admit that I did not get it. I thought it was the most boring movie I ever saw. Well, now I will read the book when I get to 1968 in my reading project and maybe I will change my mind.

Earthlight takes place on the moon sometime in the 21st century, with mankind firmly entrencehd mostly for the purpose of telescopic studies of space. In fact mankind is all over the universe living on many planets and there is a Federation. 

But all is not well. Earth is the superpower and is pitted against the Federation in a struggle over mineral rights. Negotiations are breaking down and some kind of military action is pending. A man named Sadler has been sent to the moon to find a mole, who is supposed to be giving intelligence to the Federation.

Through Sadler's eyes we learn much about life on the moon and watch the whole drama play out. Clarke is an excellent writer in terms of giving a sense of place and pretty good on characterization. He is no match for Asimov on plot but I presume that he improved since he wrote sci fi novels right up to his death and is well respected.

The main point he is making is that moving to other planets is the solution to over population on Earth but also that man will be man and still tends to resort to violence to resolve problems. He is clearly a big fan of scientists. I am glad I read it.

(Earthlight is out of print and even hard to find at libraries. I suggest used bookstores or on-line sellers of used books.)

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