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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

[Kinda Book Review] Imperial Earth by Arthur C Clark

I picked this audiobook rather randomly. Being in a Sci-Fi mood, I picked this book because I wanted to space stuff. Arthur C Clark is one of the leaders in Sci-Fi as the man who wrote 2001, a movie that both intrigued, terrorized, and interested me all at once.

The science element is strong and interesting. The description of life on Titan and how the frozen volcanoes work and some of the unique elements of the planet and space travel. ACC really knows his stuff when it comes to the space race.

We see a lot of elements that we are just breaking today (cloning, holographic projections, space travel) and others that are well established (smart phones, internet). He spends a lot of time describing these devices. Unlike other writers who do this, ACC's devices ARE things that are useful, realistic, and that seriously help mankind.

The story is set on the 5th centennial (2276 AD) and a big celebration is coming with representatives from all over the Solar System: Earth, Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Titan. Each of these nations developed their own flavor and culture - even if the story mostly focuses on Earth and Titan. Duncan Mackenzie comes to Earth as the representative of Titan he also plans on getting himself cloned as he cannot have children (long story).

Duncan's trip to Earth is a trip to the Eastern USA locations viewed 300 years in the future. He visits locations and places that exist today but in the future.

As the story evolves, we are introduced to a series of characters... None of them are particularly engaging or endearing. Kalindi, his youthful love interest may be the only one that has some sort of realistic plot. Every character, including Duncan, is bland and flavorless. They have a short discussion. "Is that guy trustworthy" "Yes" And he is.

Whatever interest the start drew from me quickly gave way to boredom as the reader was terrible. It felt like a robot reading. Gah, it was painful. Very painful.

He approaches many social elements I do not share his views on, one of the biggest reason is that these changes happen within 300 years. Other elements he hints at but rather than completing his approach, he simply drops the situation rather than create a serious discussion. Topics include alien existence, cloning, people living underground, veganism/goo-eaters.

The one element I found myself seriously at odds with his views was in the subject of love relationships. In the future (300 years, not a million. three centuries), people live a mostly debauched lifestyle when young, having kids left and right then forming strong and tight families with a mom and dad.

No. Just no. Human nature is not that way. Strong families and super-promiscuity do not go hand in hand, particularly in frontier areas like Titan. My position on those is that in such situation, you would have tight families with a mother and father at the center. Should one become widowed, the surviving parent would remarry, forming a Brady Bunch.

BTW, there is nothing "imperial" about Earth in there. Earth is a decadent place where people only look at the past.

The best element of this story however, and the shining jewel of this dreary, boring story, is its conclusion when we get Duncan's address to the United Nations. That speech, not only ties the story together, but is also a view into the future. Even though mankind turned away from the stars to look at how we can screw up the Earth, the stars and future are where mankind eventually will end up.

So rating this book... Well overall, this is a solid 2/5 but a 5/5 if you only read Duncan's final address. I kept finding myself nodding at every one of his points.

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