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Islands in the Sky Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1960
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But that being said, is the novel really all that bad? If we look at Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr series (1952-58) or James Blish's _The Star Dwellers_ (1961) and _Welcome to Mars!_ (1967), we see some juvenile fiction that is fairly weak tea. It's not really _bad_, mind you. But it is just... routine. Clarke's novel is much better written, and it may be fairly counted as one of the best of the Winston line of books for young readers.
The novel invites comparison with another excellent Winston juvenile-- Jack Vance's _Vandals of the Void_ (1953). Vance's book is unabashed, colorful, melodramatic space opera. Clarke's book is the opposite-- a low-key, quiet, realistic treatment of day-to-day life on a space station. Clarke was faced with a problem in writing such a book. If you are going to be low-key and realistic, how are you going to make your story interesting to young readers? There is in fact nothing more boring than a thinly disguised science lecture.
Clarke's solution was to set up a series of events that _seem_ to be mysterious and melodramatic and then to playfully deflate them. Thus, there are moments when it seems as if you are reading about space pirates, aliens, and deadly atomic missles. But in fact, something else is going on instead. Yet the seemingly mundane explanation manages to be just as interesting as the melodramatic scenario; and step by step, it reveals a bit more about the nuts and bolts of life in a space habitat.
Clarke was faced with a problem. He worked out a solution to that problem. He wrote smart and he wrote well. Do you want to gripe because he didn't turn out a classic?
Roy must first pass the medical tests required of space workers. Then he rides on the Sirius into orbit. Finally the spaceship docks at the station and he is towed aboard.
After meeting Commander Doyle, Roy is introduced to the ten apprentices who are currently in training. Tim Benton, the senior apprentice, gives him a tour of the working station and a view of the Residential Station, a hotel for passengers in transit. Then Tim allows Roy to accompany him outside.
Wearing a spacesuit for the first time, Roy is initially terrified by the great fall beneath him. Then he is fascinated by Earth in the sunlight. Then he is overcome by the splendor of space as darkness momentarily surrounds him. He realizes that these few experiences have profoundly changed his life.
Roy spends much of his time with the apprentices, both during their training and in their free periods. He is the butt of Norman Powell's practical jokes, the wrestling partner of Ronnie Jordan, and a witness to the "space pirates" encounter by Peter von Holberg and Karl Hasse. The latter adventure turned out to be the beginning of a space movie.
Roy went on to even more adventures. He helps medevac a sick man to the Space Hospital, meets an "alien monster", and passes out from oxygen deprivation. He also gets to travel in a runaway rocket past the Moon.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It really wasn't that good. I didn't read the others in the series because of it.Published 1 month ago by Tabby Kat
Always love reading a book that also teaches you about actual conditions in space or another planet. Looking forward to continuing the series.Published 4 months ago by Bryan Baki
A good, easy, light-hearted read--however there are consequences for messing up in space! Yes, Clarke was definitely ahead of his time on space technology. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James Nelson
This is a fine, young-adult novel about the adventure of a teenage boy who wins a trip to a space station. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Steven Styers
I'm deeply tempted to rate this more than 3 stars because I have tremendous respect for the man, but the sad fact remains that Arthur C. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Philip Brown
In the years preceding Sputnik, Gemini, or Apollo, Arthur C. Clarke looks forward with amazing accuracy at a journey through near space. Read morePublished 8 months ago by B. SIDOR
Authors view of spcae stations from a 50s perspective is interesting from today's point of view. Story line is a bit simplistic.Published 9 months ago by Wayne
I enjoyed Malcoms first experience in space. He hotvrightbinto the whe experience. Sometimes the technical stuff was a bit muchPublished 9 months ago by Diane Silva