Re Two Stories By Arthur C. Clarke: “Into the Comet” and “The Star”

I have not read any of Arthur C. Clarke‘s novels, but I am familiar with the reasonable mind behind such short stories as “Into the Comet,” “The Star,” “The Sentinel” and “Death and the Senator.”  It is a probing mind too, an instrument for meaningful science fiction.

“Into the Comet” (1960) proves how entertainingly Clarke could write.  Here, a spaceship is in peril within the very long tail of a comet.  The crew rescues itself by turning to something primitive—or “primitive”—when something technologically intricate, a computer, fails it.  How likely such a failure would be I don’t know, but it’s an agreeable story.

The 1955 “The Star” concerns a Jesuit astrophysicist afflicted with doubt about the existence of God after a world civilization is annihilated by a supernova.  Clarke assumes there is intelligent life on other planets.  There may not be.  A pleasantly cerebral piece, it is nevertheless philosophically unremarkable enough to dissatisfy.  It means little that Clarke found Belief either difficult or impossible.  He did better when probing in other directions, as in his other stories.

 

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