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Clifford D. Simak

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Title: Way Station
Author: Clifford D. Simak
Year: 1963

Everything around Civil War veteran Enoch Wallace ages, withers and dies, yet he and the house built buy his father remains untouched. Of course, such a phenomenon can only go unnoticed for so long, and finally the eyes of government agencies are drawn to the American countryside dwelling. The truth is that Enoch is the warden of a way station along a route used for interstellar travel, something he has done without trouble for over a century, but when he is accused of kidnapping the neighbour’s deaf-mute daughter, this is only the beginning of many crises.

Clifford D. Simak’s Way Station is about many things: the cold war, violence and peace. It is also about loneliness. Way Station is the musings of an old man, withdrawn from social company, yet in touch with a broader existence beyond the skies. As such, it is well written and these themes are well presented. Wallace himself is an interesting character and the reader approach him through the eyes of outside watchers, which tightens the mystery before the actual story begins.

Regardless of these words of praise, I perceive two main problems with this novel. Firstly, there are too many subplots. I normally rant about novels being too long, not the other way around. Still, Way Station would have been better if it would have had fewer subplots (or if it would have been longer, but I refuse to admit there is such a notion as novels needing to be longer). These various plots are interesting in themselves, but feel dislodged and not smoothly pieced together. Sure, most of them come together at the end, but it still feels abrupt and somewhat brutish. Secondly, the events themselves are not that interesting or unique. I recognise that the focus of the novel is not the alien innovations in Enoch’s cupboards or the galactic conspiracy, yet these do not add very much to the experience.

To summarise, Way Station is well written and contains interesting characters, but it lacks ingenuity in certain areas. I understand that the latter might be a coincidence (I do not happen to like this particular setting), but that the former is not. Simak is definitely an author worth giving a second chance, but I can only go as far as granting him three and a half snails for Way Station.

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Titel: The Hugo Winners – Volume 1
Redaktör: Isaac Asimov
Utgivningsår: 1971 (1971)
Recenserad: 2005-10-10
Status: I bokhyllan

Den här recensionen blir kort och jag vill mest lyfta fram de noveller jag tycker är läsvärda. Dessa är Exploration Team (Murray Leinster), The Star (Arhur C. Clarke), Or All the Seas with Oysters (Avram Davidson), Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes). De är minnesvärda av olika anledningar. Den första är en enastående berättelse om en fientlig planet, den andra är bland de bästa noveller jag vet, i alla fall om man delar braheten med antalet sidor, den tredje är finurligt kuslig, den fjärde rörande och tankeväckande på samma gång. Jag borde läsa fler noveller.

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