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Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C.…

Tales from the White Hart (1957)

by Arthur C. Clarke

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Harry Purvis is a master storyteller who regales his fellow patrons every Wednesday evening at the White Hart pub with fantastical yarns of eccentric characters and outrageous scientific catastrophes.

While Tales from the White Hart is considered one of Clarke's most popular anthologies, I found a handful of the stories—such as "Big Game Hunt", "Critical Mass", "Cold War", and a few others—to be either prosaic, mundane, or anticlimactic. However, there were a number of humorous and rousing romps, including:

"Patent Pending" - After a professor invents a device that records brain waves corresponding to human sensations, his assistant envisions a far more profitable, and sensual, use for the device...

"Armaments Race" - While working on a low-budget SF series for Hollywood, a special effects expert is tasked producing ever more impressive ray guns... until he creates one that actually works—with devastating results.

"The Pacifist" - The military presses a mathematician to construct a computer capable of flawless combat strategy. When the project begins falling behind schedule, the scientist is bullied by a clueless general. In response, a hidden circuit is built into the computer—one that turns out to be hilariously insubordinate.

"The Man Who Ploughed the Sea" - Harry Purvis travels to Florida with a lawyer friend to explore the coastal waters in a small submarine. During their expedition, they encounter a large yacht owned by an elderly chemist who invented a method for collecting elements and precious metals directly from saltwater.

"Moving Spirit" - When an eccentric, reclusive scientist's still explodes, he finds himself arrested for manufacturing illegal alcohol and requests help from his nephew, Harry Purvis, attorney-at-law. With the odds stacked against them, Harry literally concocts an incendiary defense for his uncle.

"The Reluctant Orchid" - A meek, timid clerk with an affinity for orchids is routinely intimidated by his imperious Aunt Henrietta. After planting a rare, carnivorous species of orchid in his greenhouse, he soon devises a plot to get rid of her...

"What Goes Up" - In the deserts of Australia, a team of scientists are confounded while testing a new design of nuclear reactor. Rather than an explosion, the reactor forms an anti-gravity bubble several hundred feet in diameter. Entering the bubble, however, could prove as dangerous as falling off a mountain... ( )
  pgiunta | Nov 5, 2017 |
This is a set of short stories all told by members of a club that meets at the White Hart. The members are scientists, science journalists, and science fiction writers. We are to understand that the narrator is the author himself. Al but one of the tales are told by club regular Harry Purvis, who can dominate any conversation with one of his tall tales. The tales tend not to end well for the inventors of the strange contraptions, like the scientist who is probably still stuck in an anti-gravity bubble somewhere in Australia. Poor fellow. There’s a story about a machine that can record the brain waves of a person, to be played back and experienced by someone else. The lab assistant who steals this naturally applies the technology to best financial gain: porn. He records professionals, but then becomes so obsessed with the recording that his girlfriend murders him for his electronic infidelity. The stories are off-the-wall and really funny. I definitely recommend this book. ( )
  Jessiqa | May 31, 2014 |
The short stories in this collection by the famous science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke, revolve around a bar called The White Hart. The narrator for the stories is retelling some hard-to-believe tales told by a frequent customer by the name of Harry Purvis. No matter how much the other customers might question Purvis's stories, Purvis always wins out in the end with customers plying him with free drinks so that he can continue his tales. I found it a little tedious after awhile because the stories didn't seem to be going anywhere and they were quite far fetched. I even left it for awhile to read another book that was more entertaining and easy to read. Still, I'm glad that I added another Clarke creation to compare with his other writings. ( )
  okjlsaz | Feb 4, 2014 |
For some reason, I never cared for these stories quite as much as the de Camp/Pratt 'Tales from Gavagan's Bar'. These are fine, amusing little tales that somehow never quite grabbed me. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Jan 9, 2014 |
Despite that most every story features a scientist dying or being incapacitated, there's still a lighthearted feel about this book of short stories. It's probably that these are being related in a bar by outside observers. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur C. Clarkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fernandes, StanislawCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franquinet, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Lew and his Thursday night customers
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You come upon the "White Hart" quite unexpectedly in one of these anonymous little lanes leading down from Fleet Street to the Embankment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A compendium of science fiction stories that combine elements of comedy and horror, including "Silence Please," "Critical Mass," and "What Goes Up"

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