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Ring Around the Sun by Clifford D. Simak
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Ring Around the Sun (original 1952; edition 1953)

by Clifford D. Simak

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Title:Ring Around the Sun
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Ring Around the Sun by Clifford D. Simak (1952)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Simak is one of the most important Science Fiction writers of the early 1960's, mostly because he created novels of marvelous ideas, ones with much potential and meat on them, if you understand. But Simak didn't always create great characters and plots to go along with those ideas (like so many other science fiction novels, the ideas are more important than the story). However, Ring Around the Sun is not one of those. It is a marvelous sci-fi novel, centering around the very idea that Currie used in Everything Matters, that the Earth is only one of millions of Earths existing in multiple space-time planes. This book is mentioned in Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis and influenced King in his Dark Tower series. It is, in my opinion, a book that should be included in the modern Western Literary Cannon, mainly because it merges literature and science in a way that most high school students could easily understand it and enjoy it.

In the story, Jay Vickers, on his way to a meeting with a Mr. Crawford, sees a shop selling Forever Light Bulbs, as well as a razor that never needs sharpening, a car that runs forever...etc... This, explains Crawford, is crippling the industries of the world, causing chaos and fear. Vickers is supposed to investigate it and expose it in articles to be published. But it's not all that simple, because the people behind the Forever Light Bulb are trying to save the world, not destroy it.

A fabulous book, one that I've read twice now. It's very rare for me to do that. The other books I've read twice include LOTR, Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson, Dragonriders of Pern by McCaffrey, and Dandelion Wine by Bradbury. Simak's book easily ranks among these. ( )
  DenzilPugh | May 21, 2012 |
When I was younger I read just about every Simak book that I could get my hands on. Novels of his such as "Waystation" and "City" and "All Flesh Is Grass" I consider as personal favorites and genuine classics of the genre. I loved most of his stuff, although a few of his last novels didn't do much for me. And there were a few books I never did read. Ring Around the Sun was one of them. This story was written in the very early 50's and a version first appeared serialized in Galaxy Magazine from Dec 1952-Feb 1953.

When reading this I kept thinking what a great movie this would have been back in the 50's. Although the book is set in the "future" of 1977, 25 years after publication, there really isn't a thing in it to say 1977 instead of 1952.

The Cold War is approaching 30 years in the book. I've always thought Simak a good writer. This has a bit of the menacing feel of Invasion of the Body Snatchers mixed up with a slight fantasy touch and the vivid descriptions of Ray Bradbury that tend to conjur big dollops of a haunted nostalgia here and there, and maybe a touch of Phillip K. Dick.

The protaganist of the story, Jay Vickers, has always noticed a touch of strange about the world and it's relation to him. He's probably in his mid 30's, a successful writer, but also a loner. Strange things are astir in the world and he and his neighbor, Horton Flanders, an old but observent man, discuss some of it. There are a couple of other notable characters, but the story is primarily about Vickers and what he finds out about the world. It is a quick moving story with pauses here and there. In the latter half though, I think we get a bit too much exposition and mental hand-wringing which spoils some of the momentum of the story and keeps me from rating this higher. The ending is a little unsatisfactory as well.

This really has that 50's sense of paranoia underlying it and I enjoyed this story a lot. Really an above average read for me, for an older novel. This book made it onto a list of the 100 best science fiction novels written between 1949 and 1984. It has some good company on the list. https://www.worldswithoutend.com/lists_pringle_sf.asp ( )
  RBeffa | Sep 11, 2011 |
I came across this later edition so picked it up and read it for the first time in many, many years. I thought it was still good if a bit dated. It has all of the typical Simak elements - I'd recommend it to anyone who is fond of the author. ( )
  johnnyapollo | May 18, 2010 |
I came across a copy at Goodwill and decided I needed to read this (I knew I owned a couple of editions but had no memory of having read it - must have been when I was very young). It mentioned on the cover of this edition (Masters of Science Fiction) that the novel was selected by David Pringle as one of the 100 best SF novels so that prompted me to purchase - besides at $.50 It would provide me with a bit of inexpensive distraction. The book is a relatively quick read dated by many references to the Cold War. For those of you who weren't around to experience any of that (and I was a kid of the 60's so I didn't experience the McCarthy Era-version, just the tail-end) the book may seem rather strange (well, stranger than the narrative), since much of the premise comes from that era of threat/paranoia. Also the story comes from an time when men wore hats (people don't realize that before JFK most men and women wore hats than not), men wore collared shirts with ties - that post-war look you see in old movies, so hold that in your mind.

The first review provides the story details so I won't repeat - I thought the story was very fast paced, with a few improbable parts but still within what's commonly acceptable in old SF. It's also, as mentioned, pure Simak (SF blended seamlessly with Fantasy) - if you like the style of his writing you'll definitely like this book. I like how he made it all come together in the end and I also liked the dialog (seemed very 50's movie). I think this would have made a most excellent Outer Limits episode had someone cared to condense into a screenplay. ( )
1 vote johnnyapollo | Apr 18, 2010 |
Jay Vickers, an author of some fame, is currently living in a world going through a strange industrial revolution. A company seems to be manufacturing products which are going to last forever, and this apparently has industry quite worried – if goods don’t become used and break down, then they can’t manufacture anything, and no one will have work. But that same company is also manufacturing artificial food, and distributing it for free to those whom do not have work. An industrialist asks Jay to investigate, and Jay says… no, actually. But he eventually goes and investigates anyway.

In some ways, it’s quite pulpy SF. The characters are poorly fleshed out. It is unmistakeably made in the 1950’s firmly in mind - a few gadgets have been added to take the story in the future, but the people carry the same values, the same ideas, the same tastes and prejudices as the fifties, and only what is needed plot-wise is updated. There are a lot of coincidences in this novel. I really do mean a lot. Vickers does question the occurrence of these for us, and although there is some explanation provided, I really cannot accept the inclusion of so many plot coincidences that are required to make this story work.

In other ways, the story is quite odd, in a pleasant way, and reminiscent of Philip K Dick, although Dick began his work several years after this novel. Vickers finds out that his knowledge about the world in which he lives, and what he believes he knows about himself, are quite, quite wrong, and what the world he actually lives in does make for interesting reading. Simak has his own metaphysical ideas about the world, like Dick. There’s also a undercurrent of paranoia running through the book, like Dick. The inclusion of these makes the book far less about whizzy gadgets, which does help detract from the pulpy nature of the book.

It’s the first Simak book that I have read, though, and if there is any fan of Simak reading this, I would be interested to know if this book is indicative of how the author wrote, and if it is, what his best book in a similar vein might be. This novel often reads like badly-written pulp-SF. Although but flashes of Dickian-style ideas do make the book more interesting, in this novel, Simak never manages to achieve what Dick does in his best works, or even his good works. ( )
1 vote rojse | Jul 8, 2009 |
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Harrison, HarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Vickers got up at an hour outrageous for its earliness, because Ann had phoned the night before to tell him about a man in New York she wanted him to meet.
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From the back:

Here is straight science fiction ...it deals with the daydream of a Better World Next Door;
the powers of paranormal magics like the mesmerizing spin of a child' top;
a superscience that can produce indestructible modern conveniences practically free of charge;
and the inspiring struggle between the humdrum dirtiness of Earthly industrialism and the enchantment of far-advanced science in the 'better' parallel world.

It, too, in a different way, is believable, exciting, and satisfying, with some of the most ingenious plot twists n recent science Fiction.

Groff-Conklin, GALAXY
Haiku summary
Ring around the Sun /
Now see what Pratchett has done / What goes round comes round

(Gateaupain) (In 2012)

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