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Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
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Way Station (original 1963; edition 1963)

by Clifford D. Simak

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Member:Stbalbach
Title:Way Station
Authors:Clifford D. Simak
Info:Old Earth Books (2004), Hardcover, 225 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
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Way Station by Clifford D. Simak (1963)

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Way Station by Clifford D. Simak won the 1964 Hugo for best novel. I chose to read it based on the award. I should mention that I'm not a Simak fan. I read some of his novels as in college and wasn't impressed. I even threw one of them across the room, The Goblin Reservation. Knowing this one was so well received, I decided I should give it a chance. I should note that I've also repeatedly tossed Huck Finn across the room even though I love most of Mark Twain's books.

Way Station has a contemporary setting — the mid 1960s. The U.S. government has been monitoring a hermit — Enoch Wallace — for decades. As anyone can guess, he's been there since the Civil War.

The government investigation has a Twin Peaks feel to it and had it stayed focused on it, I would have loved it. But the focus changes to Enoch's point of view. Rather than discovering his secret we're told out right that, yes, he's really more than a hundred years old and here's the reason why.

Through Enoch we're in turn introduced to a character named Ulysses who loves to reminisce. Those memories end up being the bulk of the book as well as lengthy discussions on humankind's fate and it's inability to adapt to alien technology. Thus, the drama and mystery of the first few pages is replaced with a rather humdrum dialog between an altered human and his alien guest. ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 14, 2013 |
This book was amazing and made a good change of pace from epic, gritty, or intricate science fiction. This is the "bottle show" of the science fiction world. Set on 1960s Earth* (and written on 1960s Earth*) it is about a civil war veteran (not the grizzled type though, or, if he ever was, it has long smoothed over into a man full of wonder and love of life) who mans an interplanetary stopover station. This is the story of the upsetting of his routine.

I enjoyed the sense of wonder and the warm, logical mind of the narrator.

*Put in its perspective, the novel makes sense thematically as well as seeming less naive than if it was written today. For example, there is a deaf-mute girl who plays a central role in the story. The author (or at least the narrator) subscribes to the idea that because she can't communicate with the world, she must have this wondrous and extrasensory inner life. She is treated as more pure than the rest of us and eventually rises to be attain the holiness that is attributed to her from the get-go. It was my least favorite part of the story, but I just kept telling myself that there wasn't a reason why she couldn't be this way given the established rules of this universe. ( )
  Hegemellman | Apr 2, 2013 |
I loved the charming tone of this story, imparted by the 19th century protagonist, a quiet man entrusted with the upkeep of a Galactic way station. The language used is calm, and refreshingly free of techno-babble, preferring to remain vague on the workings of alien tech. The narration provided by Eric Michael Summerer, is likewise sedate and not given to emotional outburst. The character voices are differentiated nicely with occasional minor accents, but nothing too jarring.

With the exception of perhaps only 2 or 3 scenes, the entire action of the novel takes place in one room of one house, where we learn the secrets kept by the way station keeper, our protagonist Enoch Wallace. The plot's conflict is high-stakes, but resolved rather too quickly and tidily for me. In fact, that leads to my greatest criticism of the story: that the situations, characters, and their motivations are all too altruistic and uncomplicated. Overall, however, I enjoyed this quaint 'palate-cleanser' read, and think it provides just the right amount of wish-fulfillment and wonder. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Apr 1, 2013 |
Thought-provoking, beautifully written, memorable, and THE best aliens I've ever encountered-- they're truly diverse and original, not just humanoids who happen to speak English . A little slow, but in a philosophical, literary way. ( )
  annemlanderson | Mar 31, 2013 |
Way Station (1963), by Clifford D. Simak, is one of the classic science fiction novels that all fans should read. It is a well-written and very enjoyable novel, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964. Enoch Wallace, a Civil War Veteran, was chosen to be the keeper of a way station on Earth for interplanetary travel by aliens. He has been administering the way station for about 100 years or so, which has prevented him from having much of a human life on Earth, except for daily walks to meet the mailman and to exercise. However, his exotic position has kept him young because he doesn’t age within the way station. He only ages when he steps outside the way station for his walks or just to sit on the steps and enjoy the outdoors. Most of the time, Enoch finds that he is not too lonely inside the Way Station because he receives frequent visits by many alien beings from many planets. In fact he considers many of those travelers to be his friends, he enjoys conversing with them, and they bring him many gifts from all over the galaxy. In addition, he has much work to do as part of his station duties, including keeping detailed journals about each visitor and all station events. However, his only human contacts are his mailman and a few acquaintances that he may encounter during his walks in the rural area around the way station. This is a fascinating and engrossing story that has almost no violence and little action. However, Enoch is a smart, compassionate, dependable and endearing character. He also engenders much sympathy from the reader as he goes about his duties inside the impenetrable way station helping travelers from all over the galaxy, while having really no in-depth relationships with any human beings. This is a very contemplative story and the reader gets to know Enoch very well. The book rewards the sympathetic reader when Enoch gets an opportunity to provide a very important service to his beloved Earth and her citizens. I found reading this book to be a truly moving experience. It is a beautiful read, and I recommend it to everyone! ( )
  clark.hallman | Mar 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clifford D. Simakprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baumann, JillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Summerer, Eric MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Dongen, H. R.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
The noise was ended now. The smoke drifted like thin, gray wisps of fog above the tortured earth and the shattered fences and the peach trees that had been whittled into toothpicks by the cannon fire. For a moment silence, if not peace, fell upon those few square miles of ground where just a while before men had screamed and torn at one another in the frenzy of old hate and had contended in an ancient striving and then had fallen apart, exhausted.
Quotations
Here lies one from a distant star, but the soil is not alien to him, for in death he belongs to the universe.
Somewhere, he thought, on the long backtrack of history, the human race had accepted an insanity for a principle and had persisted in it until today that insanity-turned-principle stood ready to wipe out, if not the race itself, at least all of those things, both material and immaterial, that had been fashioned as symbols of humanity through many hard-won centuries.
Could it be, he wondered, that the goldenness was the Hazers' life force and that they wore it like a cloak, as a sort of over-all disguise? Did they wear that life force on the outside of them while all other creatures wore it on the inside?
...the Earth was now on galactic charts, a way station for many different peoples traveling star to star. An inn...a stopping place, a galactic crossroads.
...on the other side of the room stood the intricate mass of machinery, reaching well up into the open second storey, that wafted passengers through the space from star to star.
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Book description
„Градът“ на Саймък е преди всичко епос за самоотричащия се и самоунищожаващия се човек, за неговата невъзможност да постигне вътрешна хармония и външно разбирателство, да преодолее примитивизма на собствената си природа, което е задължително условие за движение към утрешния ден.

„Градът“ на Саймък е в същност светът на Саймък — един изненадващ в измеренията художествен анализ и синтез на възгледите на буржоазния хуманист, който отчаяно търси отговор на поставените от него самия въпроси.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345284208, Mass Market Paperback)

Enoch Wallace survived the carnage of Gettysburg and lived through the rest of the Civil War to make it home to his parents' farm in south-west Wisconsin. But his mother was already dead and his father soon joined her in the tiny family cemetery. It was then that Enoch met the being he called Ulysses and the farm became a way station for space travellers. Now, nearly a hundred years later, the US government is taking an interest in the seemingly immortal Enoch, and the Galactic Council, which set up the way station is threatening to tear itself apart.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:04 -0400)

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