Transit of Earth

PDF EBook by Arthur C. Clarke

EBook Description

5/5* "Transit of Earth" - PDF title story. Transit of Earth PDF EBook 1st person narrative. Starts with statement of inevitable death, comparison to historical figures. Placement in time and space. Excuse for narrative (final thoughts before death). Story begins by contemplating 3 options for death (1 inevitable, 2 choosing earlier deaths) and explains why none suit hit. Also reveals he wasn't quite right for the mission because he's afraid of underwater suffocation. Via narrative, it's revealed he started training in his 20s. It's May 11, 1984 now. He's on Mars, awaiting the transit of Earth. 4 other crewmen stranded with him but they're dead now; download; 10 others took off for Earth already. End hints at possible rescue he's ignoring, also strange deaths of his comrades. Did he kill them so he could live long enough to see the transit? Grand finale, exit stage left.

2/5* "Button, Button" Average punchline horror story and mid 20th century misogyny. Typical grasping wife feels she deserves more. Noble but distant husband refuses to trade a stranger's life for $50k but the wife takes the deal behind his back. "For us," she says, but really, for her. Husband killed, wife gets $50k insurance and a message (when she protests it was supposed to be someone she didn't know): "You didn't really know your husband, did you?" *yawn* Credit given for the fact this is an early example in SF, but isn't even the 1st.

3/5* "The Machineries of Joy" Losing points because THIS IS NOT AN SFF STORY. It's about a couple of monks arguing over whether it's better to look toward the future - space flight - or focus on the past. "Joy" was published after the first American manned space flights took off from Canaveral, which is briefly mentioned in the story, and is the only remotely SF element. It's still well written, for what it is - a non genre short exploring mankind's various religious-tainted views on space exploration. Best part was this line: "Let's face it, the Italians are the Rotary of the Church. You couldn't have trusted any of them to stay sober during the Last Supper". Also the reminder that "California Irish" is of great disappointment to "Dublin Irish".

4/5* "The Invasion" Story of a man who seems crazy but turns out to be more aware than the rest of us. Straight forward, simple, but bonus points for treating a prostitute like any other woman instead of the cause/punishment/sickness.

5/5* "Bernie the Faust" Written in the classic SF "are you smart enough?" style. A con man gets conned while trying to get one over on the other guy. Smart guys figure out - just in time - he's sold the whole Earth! Except, maybe not... Quick witted character study, with an excellent example of the twists and turns in one man's head. Bonus for the right amount of wishful vengeance and the idea that even alien grifters get what's coming to them.

2/5* "Cephalotron" Epistolatory style, written as a press release and ad copy for a new toy which turns out to be miniaturized versions of mutant, post-atomic humans. Might have enjoyed it better if I hadn't already seen this idea a hundred times. (I feel strongly that this is too new to have been the original; I might be wrong though.) Don't miss the imbedded racism when the human skin tones are described: "smart pinkish-beige hue, a striking ebony, a suave yellow, or a mellow brown."

5/5* "It Didn't Happen" Excellent use of crime fiction techniques to explore popular (at the time) ideas of solipsism and ontology. A streetwise lawyer, with shades of "noir dectective", has to build up a defense of a man who absolutely did the crime. Bonus for having a female judge without any comment about that being a rare/strange fact, and for having a burlesque dancer who wasn't also a prostitute. Actually, the best use of female characters in the anthology, even considering that 2 out of 3 of them are murdered.

2/5* "The Man in the Rorshach Shirt" Another Bradbury NOT-SF story. Not much of a story, plot-wise - a man runs into an old friend, gone 10 years, who used to be a famous and respected psychiatrist, but now wanders around LA in a specially-made "Rorschach" patterned shirt, to amuse himself with 30 second therapy sessions on whoever passes by. Explanation of why he quit fills up the bulk of the text, and the moment ends without resolution, other than the narrator having found out why his friend quit the business.

2/5* "Waste Not, Want Not" Cute SF story with strands of solid extrapolation, but told in a straightforward, overly simple way. There is a problem, they solve it. 80,000 years later, there's another problem, and a paragraph later, they've solved that, too. It all works out for the best! Yay! *yawn*

4/5* "Control Somnambule" Another epistolary tale: the "official report" of a hypnotist brought in to examine an astronaut who lost several hours of time during a spaceflight. Strong science, nice reveal, presented logically for the narrator's character.

4/5* "Let There Be Light" Another story of a scheming woman bringing a good man low. Title refers to a murder plot gone wrong; writing is on the gothic side, which is a pleasant change, and the characters are more nuanced than most other pieces in this collection.

2/5* "Speed Trap" Points for decent use of science, but this is the worst kind of "look how smart we are" classic SF writing: a brilliant, well-heeled, white male, gets fame and more handed over to him because his ideas were just so wonderful, you know? Clearly ripping off Heinlein, Asimov, and that crowd - the kind of story you can tell came out of a "what if" conversation between a couple of good ol' SFWA boy at some convention or bourbon-soaked dinner. Through in a character named after a friend of the author and a possible murder - gotten away with, of course, because the maybe-murderer was also a brilliant academic type - and you are only missing a scantily-dressed waitress or stewardess to make this an archetypal Playboy SF story. Oh, wait, we start with the narrator talking about all the stewardesses he knows in his (fictional, 'cause academic life is never like this) jet-set conference schedule. Yep, perfectly patriarchal, and dull as you'd expect.

5/5* "Souvenir" Ballard's dialogue-free narrative about a beached creature, a giant carcass of a humanoid, decaying and then parted out by humans who subsequently forgot what they had dismantled, is more speculative literature than science fiction, but it's masterfully written. Lingering impressions of American folktale mixed with Calvino or Borges. Definitely recommend.


Like this book? Read online this: Poems written before jumping out of an 8 story window, Transit (Episode 1).

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