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79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Masterpiece of Classic SF
Clifford D. Simak's Way Station is simply one of the most original and best SF novels ever written. Long considered a masterpiece, published in 1963, this story remains as fresh today as when first written. Though the theme has often been explored, the plot is one of a kind. So different that it remains unduplicated after almost 4 decades.
The theme of the book...
Published on November 17, 2001 by OhSayCanYouSee1

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF
Way Station by Clifford D. Simak. This was a throwback novel. Classic SF of the style that I haven't read in almost 20 years (I trend more toward military SF and urban fantasy). It definitely required a context switch but it is interesting to stretch my normal bound.

Enoch Wallace is a Civil War veteran who is living in the contemporary times(circa 1963 for the...
Published on May 18, 2012 by Daniel O. Buchholz


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79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Masterpiece of Classic SF, November 17, 2001
By 
This review is from: Way Station (SF Collector's Edition) (Gollancz Collectors' Editions) (Paperback)
Clifford D. Simak's Way Station is simply one of the most original and best SF novels ever written. Long considered a masterpiece, published in 1963, this story remains as fresh today as when first written. Though the theme has often been explored, the plot is one of a kind. So different that it remains unduplicated after almost 4 decades.
The theme of the book revolves around whether human society is worthy of inclusion in galactic society, mainly because of its warlike tendencies. Written in the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the nuclear uncertainty surrounding that era of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union, Simak weaves a tale that was modern when written, but timeless in retrospect. This theme has recurred again and again in actual society, such as during the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and now the War against Terrorism.
But the plot of this book is so unique, that we are fortunate that no writer has attempted to copy this idea. The Way Station is a galactic transportation transfer point, kept by a lone human being, himself a throwback to another era. Beings from all over the galaxy secretly pass through the Earth, communicating, learning and sharing with the station keeper, and spreading their cultures by so doing. The character development of the protagonist is first rate, and the writing is of exceptional quality. When separate crises develop simultaneously on the Earth and within galactic society, the book comes to a fascinating and exciting climax.
Simak's body of work has been rated highly, but this story ranks among the best SF novels of all time. It is a must read for all serious SF fans, and should be a foundation piece for anyone looking to acquire such works on their bookshelf. Way Station is rated at 4.95 stars out of 5.00, easily rounded up to 5.00. The book reads wonderfully now; it will read wonderfully again when you pick it up in 10-20 years.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked classic, February 27, 2001
Most people have never heard of Clifford Simak unless they're longtime SF fans and even those that have tend to gravitate more toward his other classic "City" but those who do, or even those who makes the mistake of ignoring him completely are making a grave error. This book is the equal of any SF classic based purely on the strength of its ideas and subtle conviction in those ideas. It doesn't have an ultracomplicated structure or a hip "postmodern" attitude but the attitude is does have is quiet and understated and undeniably brilliant. What's it all about? Basically Enoch Wallace has been living in his house for what seems like years and years and years but his neighbors are folk who don't question stuff like that. Turns out that Wallace is way older than anyone can think of and his house serves as one of the crossroads of the galaxy, with strange and fascinating aliens visiting him as they pass through, leaving him with a house cluttered with strange and wonderful treasures that he can hardly begin to contemplate . . . while at the same time wondering what all this means to Earth and its place in the galactic community. But forces are closing in on what he actually is while at the same time forces across the farflung galaxy are pushing forward events that even the aliens involved are hardly ready for. What makes this novel so good is not it's depiction of the bizarre array of philosophical and imaginative aliens, although that's part of it, Simak throws out alien races in a few sentences that other authors could spend entire novels trying to explain and describe. No, what makes it good is its unwavering faith in humanity, Wallace and the aliens might not have a high opinion of people at times but for all our dirty little mannerisms, in the end we've got just as much potential as everyone else. That, coupled with his pastoral views of the land around the house and the simple beauty of the untamed wilderness makes for a book mostly light on action but great in depth, Wallace is one of the rare totally three dimensional SF characters, content in his mission but still wondering what it all means even as everyday brings new wonders to light. I thought this book was going to be good but I was amazed at how excellent it was. One of the alltime classics.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pre-cursor to Star Trek's Galactic Federation!, October 13, 2008
By 
Paul Weiss (Dundas, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Way Station (Hardcover)
Enoch Wallace is 124 years old, the last survivor of the Civil War, living as a recluse in the woods of southwest Wisconsin. For reasons of their own, aliens have selected Enoch to run an inter-stellar way station, a hub of their galactic transportation network that enables aliens from planets across the galaxy to travel instantaneously from one star system to another. Because the aliens have decided that mankind and earth are not yet ready for membership in this galactic federation, Enoch must labour in splendid isolation and keep the station's secret to himself. Inevitably, Wallace's astonishing longevity attracts notice and the US government begins to investigate both Wallace and the odd happenings at his house in the woods.

When the investigating agent inadvertently interferes with alien property, the aliens (whose political alliances are also uncharacteristically strained) threaten retribution and removal of the way station from earth entirely. With the aid of alien science and mathematics, Wallace now believes the world is headed unavoidably for self-annihilation in a nuclear war that will destroy humanity for centuries to come. Despite his obvious desire for a union between mankind and the alien races he has come to know and respect, Wallace is left with what amounts to an impossible Hobson's choice - abandon humanity, join the aliens in their travels across the galaxy and man a way-station elsewhere; or bid farewell to the aliens and toss in his lot with the human species that he is convinced is destined for self-destruction.

In many ways, "Way Station" is a typical Simak novel, quiet and soft in a comfortably low key character and idea-driven pastoral style. One might even go so far as to say it hovers on the edge of fantasy or mysticism as it explores the idea of humanity's reaction to other sentience in the universe or other more difficult ideas such as what might form the basis for an alien "religion". But, in this very short novel (perhaps typical of the classic sci-fi era), Simak also explores some harder sci-fi ideas such as teleportation, holograph technology, the form that sentient aliens may take and the construction of alien language.

The intensely emotional happy ending, comfortably warm and fuzzy is probably a reflection of Simak's personal optimism (or at least hopes) for the future of man and Earth as we evolve in the years to come. A thoroughly enjoyable must read for any lover of classic sci-fi.

Paul Weiss
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb and Subtle, August 3, 2000
By 
This review is from: Way Station (Hardcover)
This is one of the best SciFi novels around. Its beauty lies within the subtlety of the ideas and and simple humanity found throughout. I have read and reread this book over the years, and each time the story seems to change in my perception. My copy fell apart from over use and I now find it out of print.If you come across this book...buy it because you'll never regret doing so.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A home at the end of the galaxy, February 21, 2005
By 
This review is from: Way Station (Hardcover)
It's 1964, and Civil War veteran Enoch Wallace is a youthful 124 years old. His presence in the scarcely populated backwoods of Wisconsin perplexes his neighbors if they think about it much, but Wallace's Dorian Gray syndrome has become a fixture of their limited social landscape.

Instead of hiding a painting in the attic or making a pact with the devil, however, Wallace had been chosen, a century earlier, as the keeper of an intergalactic way station. His nineteenth-century home is now an impenetrable rest stop for extraterrestrial travelers of an untold number of alien species; inside, time's arrow slows to a halt. Although Earth is optimally located for this pit-stop, its human inhabitants are not ready--psychologically or sociologically--for membership in the Galactic confederation. And so the station, and Wallace's role in it, are kept secret--until a CIA agent turns up and starts nosing around.

As he does in his masterpiece, "City," Simak adopts a campfire storytelling style that is suited to the rural setting. Although there's still plenty of action (and violence, for that matter), his pastoral musings are a refreshing change from many of the rockets-and-robots stories of the period. Similarly, his sympathetic portrayal of Lucy Fisher, a neighbor girl who endures physical abuse from her father, is affecting and unexpected. (There's also a fascinating description of a virtual reality shooting gallery that is forty years ahead of its time.)

There are a few bizarrely off-key moments, though, such as when various earthlings encounter, with extraordinary equanimity, an alien being for the first time. And Simak does have a tendency to go a little overboard on his Cold War homilies (not to mention their grammatical gymnastics): "Somewhere, he thought, on the long backtrack of history, the human race has 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."

But "Way Station" compensates for these false notes and Sunday-school sermons with a riveting story, intriguing characters, and a somewhat sentimental ending that leaves nothing that might be mistaken for a loose end. At the close of this extraordinary adventure, Wallace realizes that the world as he knew it "would never be the same again" but that "he had work to do. Now he was ready for it."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simak's Other Masterpiece, December 21, 2005
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This review is from: Way Station (Hardcover)
Clifford D. Simak's "Way Station" was first published under the title "Here Gather the Stars" in Galaxy Magazine in two parts in June and August of 1963. This is an excellent novel which won the Hugo Award in 1964. It has also been remembered by fans by finishing 27th on the Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll in 1966; tied for 25th on the Locus All-Time Poll in 1987, and finished 31st in 1990 on the Locus All-Time Poll for SF Novels published before 1990.

The main character of the story is Enoch Wallace, a veteran of the American Civil War who is 124 years old, and yet only appears to younger than 30. The story is told in a non-linear style, and Simak artfully moves between present and past events, learning about how Enoch became a Way Station for an inter-galactic transportation system, why he has kept it secret, what has happened during his time as the keeper of the station, and why the CIA has finally become aware of his existence.

Simak covers a lot of ground in this story. The political climate on Earth as well as that of the Inter-Galactic Council, the investigation of the CIA, an encounter with his nearest neighbors, Enoch's loneliness and alienation from the modern world, and the theft of an alien talisman all play an important role in this story. Despite these complexities in the plot, it is amazingly easy to follow and is put together wonderfully by Simak.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet book that will soon enthrall you, September 19, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Way Station (Hardcover)
The only reason I picked up this book was because it was a Hugo winner. When I saw the cover I felt awful--it was an ugly, blotchy painting of somebody's face on a disgusting yellow background. Even when I started reading it I felt that this would be one of the "undeserving" sci-fi books. But then something happened in the plot and I was hooked. I read the entire book in one sitting, which is no great feat considering its relatively short length. Still, the book is one of the best sci-fi books I have ever read, although it is different from epics like Dune or the Foundation trilogy. Instead, it deals with a very small group of people in a very small region of the world. Although bigger things are hinted at, most of the action (if it can even be called that) takes place around one house. Even so, the book is enthralling, and its ideas I found to be fascinating.
The reason I gave it 4 stars, however, is because I felt the ending was somewhat of a let-down. It seemed too pat and too much of an "Act of God" to deserve the rest of the novel as a prelude. It didn't follow at all from anything else! The truth is, however, that I would gladly have followed the plot for many more books. Even if the ending is somewhat of a letdown, people should still read this book for everything but the ending.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book!!! (if you can find a copy), March 9, 2001
By 
Possibly the finest SF novel---ever! My brother and I have dicussed this book many times. This, with todays technology, would be great to see on the big screen. Not for it's special effects, they would be secondary, but for the story. It is such a shame this book is out of print because so many Sci-Fi fans are being deprived, unless they are lucky enough to have someone tell them about it, of a true masterpiece of science fiction. Simak peaks your interest from the very start, then puts you on an emotional roller coaster that really never ends. This book is clever, exciting, thought-provoking, and most of all, fun! I actually have a hardback(stays on the shelf) and two paperback copies. The first one is so worn, I retired it and the other one will soon gain the same status. What does this tell you? Find a copy (more than one if possible) and experience one of the greatest Sci-Fi books ever written.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enoch Wallace and JFK, December 5, 2007
By 
Paul Camp (Chattanooga, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Way Station (Hardcover)
_Way Station_ by Clifford D. Simak was serialized in the June and August, 1963 issues of _Galaxy_ under the title "Here Gather the Stars." Therein lies a personal story. In May, 1963 I was in high school. I picked up the June issue of _Galaxy_ in a Nashville drug store and settled down on a sidewalk bench in front of Peabody College to read it. Just then, a police motorcade came by, followed by a black, open-topped limousine. In the limo was John F. Kennedy, talking in a relaxed manner with the governor and the mayor. (I later discovered that he had been to Nashville to deliver a Civil rights speech.) A few months later, Kennedy would be dead-- killed in a car similar to the one that I was looking at that day. Once the car passed, somehow the magazine seemed more important to me than my brush with history.

I believe that there was another connection between _Way Station_ and Kennedy. In Simak's novel, modern nations are engaged in a kind of brinksmanship that is taking the world closer and closer to a nuclear war. Surely the Cuban missle crisis must have been fresh in Simak's mind when he wrote the novel. Many Americans at that time were certain that nuclear war was coming, and Simak must have deplored the political games that led us close to Armageddon. Certainly the American government and the CIA are portrayed as somewhat less than heroic in _Way Station_.

There is a CIA agent who appears early in the novel and talks about a mysterious situation that he has uncovered. The reader might expect him to be the central character-- the man who solves the mystery, who unravels the puzzle. But that is not what happens. I believe that it was Alfred Bester who first noted that you can never look at the beginning of a Simak tale and predict exactly how it will end. His stories almost always zig and zag in a lot of different directions before they reach a resolution. Simak is in complete control of his plot. He knows just how much to show the reader without giving away too much.

The characters are also well-done and (mostly) sympathetic. There is Enoch Wallace, the strong and silent survivor of the Civil War who runs an interplanetary way station in the Wisconsin hills. There is Ulysses, the civilized alien liason between Enoch and the rest of the galaxy. There is Lucy Fisher, the beautiful, mute mountain girl. There are David and Mary Ransom, who are not _exactly_ ghosts... And there are the endless stream of alien travelors who pass through the station.

The style also represents Simak at his best. It is sometimes a bit repetitious ( a common fault with Simak). But it is generally very well done. Here is the opening to the novel:

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 cannon fire. For a moment silence, if not peace, fell upon those few square miles where men had fought.
For endless time there had been belching thunder, rolling from horizon to horizon. The gouted earth spouted in the sky. Horses screamed, mixed with the hoarse bellowing of men; the whistling of metal and the thud when the whistle ended; the flash of searing fire and the brightness of the steel; the bravery of the colors snapping in the wind.
Then it had all ended. There was a silence. (8)

The novel is a plea for humanity and peace that rarely descends into preachiness. Simak may have had the Cuban missle crisis immediately in mind when he wrote this novel. But other crises have come, and the mentality behind them is still with us today. _Way Station_ has not aged at all since it was first published almost fifty years ago.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, back in print!, September 10, 2004
By 
Michael Walsh (Baltimore, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Way Station (SF Collector's Edition) (Gollancz Collectors' Editions) (Paperback)
A new edition of WAY STATION (& CITY !) was released by Old Earth Books at the 62nd annual World SF Convention over Labor Day weekend and will eventually, I'm sure, appear on Amazon.

The book is a great read.

This is what Robert A. Heinlein wrote about Clifford Simak:

"To read science fiction is to read Simak. The reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science fiction at all."

And for someone more contemporaty, Allen Steele:

"Clifford Simak was one of the finest writers to ever grace

science fiction; there has never been another voice quite like his. CITY and WAY STATION are two of his best novels; if you haven't read them, now is a perfect opportunity."

If you haven't WAY STATION - or CITY - boy, are you in for a treat!
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Way Station (SF Collector's Edition) (Gollancz Collectors' Editions)
Way Station (SF Collector's Edition) (Gollancz Collectors' Editions) by Clifford D. Simak (Paperback - October 19, 2000)
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