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FALL OF MOONDUST by Arthur C. Clarke

FALL OF MOONDUST (original 1961; edition 1969)

by Arthur C. Clarke (Author)

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1,378288,473 (3.71)55
Authors:Arthur C. Clarke (Author)
Info:Pan Books (1969), Edition: New Impression, 208 pages
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A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke (1961)



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“He was a boy again, playing in the hot sand of a forgotten summer. He had found a tiny pit, perfectly smooth and symmetrical, and there was something lurking in its depths—something completely buried except for its waiting jaws. The boy had watched, wondering, already conscious of the fact that this was the stage for some microscopic drama. He had seen an ant, mindlessly intent upon its mission, stumble at the edge of the crater and topple down the slope.

It would have escaped easily enough—but when the first grain of sand had rolled to the bottom of the pit, the waiting ogre had reared out of its lair. With its forelegs it had hurled a fusilade of sand at the struggling insect, until the avalanche had overwhelmed it and brought it sliding into the throat of the crater.

As Selene was sliding now. No ant-lion had dug this pit on the surface of the Moon, but Pat felt as helpless now as that doomed insect he had watched so many years ago. Like it, he was struggling to reach the safety of the rim, while the moving ground swept him back into the depths where death was waiting. A swift death for the ant, a protracted one for him and his companions.”

In “A Fall of Moondust” by Arthur C. Clarke

Back in the day, I worked in IT for real as a lowly SysAdmin, also known as a computer whisperer (like a horse whisperer, only in binary...). When I was done gently soothing my big beasts with the soft lullaby of 0's and 1's, I always ended by singing them the song their daddy taught them: "Daisy, Daisy . . . " Don't laugh, it worked! Really. They all frequently express their continued enthusiasm for the mission.

A director like Paul Greengrass could really make “A Fall of Moondust” tense (remember “United 93”). The problem would be that, as Clarke himself admitted, the sea of dust idea is a myth, disproved by later research. Still a good story though. Yes indeed - they'd have to modify it so perhaps it was a sink hole caused by mining - extraction of water etc. But come to think of it, no need. I'd happily suspend any amount of disbelief to watch a film version of “A Fall Of Moondust”. Retro-futuristic, perhaps? That would be fun. Lots of flashing lights and magnetic tape whizzing around representing a 1960's view of the far future.

Standing the test of time is part of what constitutes "greatness," surely. Clarke was obviously much more influential than Phil Dick when they were writing and because he paid such attention to technical detail, any number of ideas he popularized later came to be. But Phil Dick has risen in stature as the unthinkable (Nazis openly accepted as leaders in America, for example) in his books has become plausible. He starts to feel almost prophetic whereas when he wrote it probably just seemed a silly idea for a story. And while "Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" has a few rough edges, it poses most of the pertinent questions in bioethics; Clarke for all his brilliance was more of a science booster than a science critic. ( )
2 vote antao | Aug 15, 2018 |
This is more of a thriller than many other Clarke novels. It is the 2040s and a group of tourists is visiting the Moon's Sea of Thirst, a featureless desert of incredibly fine powder, in a vessel logically if unimaginatively called Selene. A freak combination of circumstances causes Selene to sink into the dust without visible trace on the surface. The passengers and crew have only days to live before the oxygen runs out. Then begins a desperate race against time by the outside world (the Earth and the Moon) to locate and rescue them, punctuated by numerous setbacks. This is a very good read, though it lacks the majesty and grandeur of The City and the Stars or Rendezvous with Rama. Most of the characters are fairly wooden. Like a lot of SF, it tells more about the time in which it was written (1960) than about the future, in terms of relations between the sexes and the state of technology. Finally, it is also dated scientifically as in 1960 there were some scientists who believed the Moon's surface was made of such dust, caused by billions of years of erosion of the rocks out of which it was formed, and that no spacecraft would ever be able to land there. Clarke concedes this anachronism in a foreword to this edition, written in 1987. Despite these flaws, this is another great novel by one of the masters of SF. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 13, 2018 |
Solid science fiction...or fiction with a science base. With a little Irwin Allen thrown in. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Typical Clark. Good SF story. Not his best. ( )
  ikeman100 | May 7, 2017 |
A great set piece hamstrung by the need to fill an entire book with it. At times too much seems to happen that doesn't have to, like the subplot of the private investigator chasing down some kind of Walter Mitty character. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jul 3, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellis, DeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emmerová, JarmilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffiths, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Károly, AndrásCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krause, L.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuczka, PéterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nygren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, FatoşTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siegel, HalCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szentmihályi Szabó, PéterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westermayr, TonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Liz and Mike
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To be the skipper of the only boat on the Moon was a distinction that Pat Harris enjoyed.
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This work refers to the complete novel by Arthur C. Clarke. Please do not merge with abridged versions or radio plays adapted from it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575073179, Paperback)

Time is running out for the passengers and crew of the tourist cruiser Selene, incarcerated in a sea of choking lunar dust. On the surface, her rescuers find their resources stretched to the limit by the mercilessly unpredictable conditions of a totally alien environment. A brilliantly imagined story of human ingenuity and survival, A FALL OF MOONDUST is a tour-de-force of psychological suspense and sustained dramatic tension by the field's foremost author.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:48 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A lunar cruise ends in disaster after a moonquake sinks the cruiser Selene beneath a sea of liquid-fine lunar dust on the Moon's Sea of Thirst. Facing enormous environmental barriers, the rescue team finds their courage, ingenuity, and resources tested to the breaking point-as trapped passengers and crew slowly run out of time. Originally published in 1961, A Fall of Moondust was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel-and was the first science fiction tale chosen as a Reader's Digest Condensed Book. Informed by the most current scientific knowledge of the time, A Fall of Moondust is a realistically-conceived and gripping story of human resourcefulness and triumph in the face of nearly-insurmountable challenges.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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