Thursday, 2 July 2015

Book Review - Islands in the Sky by Arthur C Clarke

This is one of the books that drew me into science fiction. That was about thirty years ago and it's been almost as long since I last read this book. Now there's always a danger when reading something pivotal in your childhood years that it no longer stacks up when you re-read it with adult eyes. Thankfully this didn't prove to be the case and I think I enjoyed more now that I have a more analytical mind - and it's still a cracking story to boot!

What attracted me then and still does is the solid engineering basis for the technology and the experience of living in space. In many ways it acts as an easy introduction into the key elements of hums surviving in orbits. There are some key differences though which reflect the time from which it is written. Most notably is the romantisism of mankind's expansion into orbit. We unfortunately haven't come close to this vision.

Following that point is that it's interesting to see what isn't there and that's a reflection of what we have learned since then. A good example is the issue of health, the problems suffered by stronauts on extended missions in orbits aren't mentioned. Another notable inaccuracy is the planetary science, there's life where we know that there isn't.

But these issues don't really matter because the story reflects the dream of anyone who has wished to go into space. It delves into concepts that are core to understanding that dream and fascinates with the imagination of the author's vision. It's a short, fast paced book that packs a lot in and reminds me just why I enjoy science-fiction so much.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

The story of 'Island in the Sky' centers around a young man, who, after brilliantly winning a space-related competition, requests a vacation on a space station as his prize. It is written with Arthur C. Clark's obvious knowledge of science, but moves at a page turning rate througout the entire narrative. The short novel gives a realistic possiblilty of work and play in future space, hightened with constant excitment and action. Character development is very good, as are the not-overdone (but still awsome) visual descriptions.

Click here to buy Islands in the Sky from Amazon (and it's a classic sci-fi read)

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