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The Sentinel

(Book #2 in the The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke Series)

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Few masters of science fiction have brought us glimpses of the near future as vividly as Arthur C. Clarke. It is the startling realism of his vision that has made classics of his Childhood's End and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

the seeds of 2001

In 1948, Arthur C. Clarke submitted a short story, The Sentinel, to a BBC contest; which he did not win. However, the story was published in the Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader in 1951, and in 1964 he returned to the story and began expanding it into a novel. He and the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick used this as the basis for a movie script which, in 1968, became 2001 : A Space Odyssey; for which both received Oscar nominations.Especially considering the opacity for which the movie is notorious, the story is remarkably spare and straightforward. The narrator, a lunar geologist, recalls cooking sausage one morning at a research base on the Moon, when the rising sun revealed a metallic glimmer on the rock wall of Mare Crisium. He and a compatriot climbed the crater rim and found : [A] roughly pyramidal structure, twice as high as a man, that was set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel.Though they initially believed it to be a relic of a lost lunar civilization (notice it is much different than the black obelisks which were eventually used in the movie), they soon realized that it must have been placed there billions of years ago by an advanced race from another planet. It took twenty years, but finally they were able to penetrate a protective shield around the crystal by using atomic upon it. Now they understand the structure to have been a kind of sentinel, waiting to alert the beings who placed it there that finally the human race has achieved a sufficient level of development to be worthy of their notice.I particularly like the way that this tale, written by a renowned futurist at the dawn of the space age, actually resonates with age old religious concerns. The simple idea at its core is that it is by increasing our knowledge and developing our technological prowess that we will become superior beings, even gods. The geologist sagely worries, as must anyone who recalls the Fall of Man and the Tower of Babel, that the beings who left behind this early warning signal may even be jealous of our advances and may not be all that happy to find that they finally have company. Like all of the best tales of the fantastic, The Sentinel, though ostensibly about the future, illuminates the very mundane concerns we've always had about the nature of our being and our role in the order of things.GRADE : A

Wonderful selection of well-written tales

The most amazing thing about these stories is that they were written around the 50s, but it sure doesn't seem so. Clarke is a scientist, to be sure, but he doesn't overwhelm you with it. I think that's especially admirable since he could have easily fallen back on the science as a crutch and let this guide his stories. Instead, he spends equal time working on characterization, and the stories are better for it. His characters are supplied with quirks and attitudes which we can all relate to, even if you're not the captain of a space freighter or an envoy to a mysterious alien race.This collection was actually released about 15 years ago, as I recall. It was definitely due for a reprint, as it was in my mind an instant classic... a perfect combination of carefully-selected stories, informative intros, and beautiful illustrations by Lebbeus Woods. Cheers to iBooks!


This is why Mr. Clarke truly is a legend of our time. The depth of his imagination and brilliance of his engineering expertise makes his novels revelation and pure enjoyment to read. Page after page after page. Just remember Rama. These are it's predecesors. A must have for every sci-fi fan!!!

Another Good Short Story Collection

There are several collections of Arthur C. Clarke short stories, and I would say that along with The Other Side of The Sky this is the best one. It's hard to find (indeed, it is out of print), but worth it, since you can probably find it cheap. The Sentinel, one of the most famous SF short stories ever, is here, and it is a classic. And as everyone knows, it sowed the seeds that sprung 2001. Also included is Guardian Angel, the story that Clarke later expaned into Childhood's End (which is, in my opinion, his best novel). There is also a short outline of the Songs of Distant Earth, which Arthur would release as a full novel in 1991, after already writing a similar short story (found in The Other Side...) of the same name. These three items alone are enough to make most Clarke fans buy the book, but there are also 6 other stories. My personal favorite in here is Breaking Strain. It tells the tale of two astronauts in space and the oxygen in their ship is depleting. They then realize that if one of them dies, there will be just enough oxygen for one of them to survive... a classic tale. As are the other 8 stories in this book, making this a must-read for Clarke fans.
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