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Way Station Kindle Edition
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|Length: 238 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From the Inside Flap
More than a hundred years before, an alien being named Ulysses had recruited Enoch as the keeper of Earth's only galactic transfer station. Now Enoch studied the progress of Earth as he tended the tanks where the aliens appeared, and the charts he made indicated that his world was doomed to destruction. His alien friends could only offer help that seemed worse than the dreaded disaster.
Then he discovered the horror that lived across the galaxy . . . --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Simak was best known for the book City, a reaction to the horrors of World War II, and for his novel Way Station. In 1953 City was awarded the International Fantasy Award, and in following years, Simak won three Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award. In 1977 he became the third Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and before his death in 1988, he was named one of three inaugural winners of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
- Publication Date : July 21, 2015
- File Size : 2433 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 238 pages
- Publisher : Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy; Reprint Edition (July 21, 2015)
- ASIN : B00YO78RRS
- Language: : English
- Lending : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Best Sellers Rank: #47,250 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This story revolves around Enoch, who performs a job for others in the galaxy while tasked to keep his involvement secret from other earthlings. Unfortunately, his unorthodox actions are noticed, which precipitates several crises before coming to a solid conclusion. Along the way, Simak provides thought-provoking statements for the reader to chew on. (My personal favorite: Was war an instinctive thing, for which each ordinary man was as much responsible as the policy makers and the so-called statesmen? It seemed impossible, and yet, deep in every man was the combative instinct, the aggressive urge, the strange sense of competition--all of which spelled conflict of one kind or another if carried to conclusion).
I almost graded this as four stars, due to the slow middle of the book. Upon further reflection, the story seemed to slow only because of the great detail the author presented concerning the aspects of his job, and the book would not have had the same impact at the end if the reader was not aware of these details. As with most sci-fi back then, this is a very quick read (231 pages) and worth your time.
Way Station tells the story of Enoch Wallace, a veteran of the American Civil War, who is chosen by an extraterrestrial governing body to serve as a sort of galactic innkeeper for interstellar travelers passing through our solar system. The means of travel is a form of teleportation, and Enoch’s rural home is transformed into an arrival, layover, and departure center for wayfarers of myriad alien species and cultures. The interior of Enoch’s house—the way station—exists outside of time, so he does not age when he is inside it. Eventually, a 120-year-old man who looks like he’s in his thirties begins to draw attention. His neighbors become suspicious of their weird, reclusive neighbor. A CIA agent hears rumors of Enoch’s agelessness and puts him under surveillance. These interlopers not only intrude upon Enoch’s privacy; their meddling may also threaten the delicate diplomatic relations between Earth and the rest of the galaxy.
The story is set in rural southwestern Wisconsin, where Simak grew up. He lived his entire life in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and many of his works are set in those states. It’s always refreshing to read a great work of American regional literature that doesn’t take place in one of the nation’s three biggest cities. Occasionally writers will set a work in a generic rural setting, perhaps designating a state such as Kansas or Nebraska for authenticity’s sake. Simak, on the other hand, really establishes a specific sense of place to his setting. You can tell he has had an intimate relationship with the region he describes and the people who dwell there. There is a profound sensitivity to his writing about rural life that’s reminiscent of the work of Willa Cather. Yet the science fiction elements he layers on top of this foundation are as visionary as any other writer of the genre. He judiciously understates the sci-fi elements of the story in order to emphasize the literary over the sensational. A writer like Fritz Leiber would have populated his way station with all manner of far-fetched freakiness, resulting in a weird-for-weird’s-sake view of intergalactic contact (as in The Big Time, for example). Simak, on the other hand, focuses on the humanity in his characters, even those who aren’t human. He aims for more than just thrills and entertainment, instead imbuing his story with an admonishing message of cautious hope for mankind.
Sometimes the story goes off into tangents that seem irrelevant, but eventually Simak brings them back full circle to become integral to the main thrust of the plot. Though quite suspenseful for most of its length, the story lags a little toward the end, and some conflicts are resolved a little too conveniently. Nevertheless, this is a great work of science fiction truly deserving of the accolades it has received. As good as this novel is, however, Simak’s true calling is short stories. If you haven’t done so already, check out Open Road Media’s excellent series The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak, which is projected to amount to 14 volumes of this master’s work.
While WAY STATION and CITY are definitive triumphs, after reading them you are going to go spelunking for nuggets like Time And Again, Ring Around The Sun, A Choice Of Gods, or the really bizarre All Flesh Is Grass; and of course some of the collected short stories. Clifford D Simak was the 3rd Grand Master of The Science Fiction Writers of America after Robert Heinlein and the great Jack Williamson.
Like his contemporary and other Midwestern Sci-Fi Guru Bradbury, Simak has an almost Mark Twain approach to writing, there is an easy humanity in his style and this is the attraction because Simak gives us characters who breathe and worry, laugh and take time to look at the vistas and panorama of the world. They have flaws and they learn how to rise above them, and they deal with obstacles and challenges with thought and wisdom and not with violence. If you are looking for shoot-em up action, Starship Troopers and Bug Invaders, look elsewhere. Clifford D. Simak is an intelligent writer with the strange willingness to concentrate on people and hopefulness, decency and compassion, curiosity and understanding. Clifford D. Simak was a cosmic consciousness kind of guy and his writing has been a source of inspiration to explore and discover.
While CITY began life as a short story series from the World War II years into the 50’s, he managed to magically interconnect them into a storyboard spanning over ten thousand years as a history of mankind generally, but of a certain family specifically, told through the framing device (as collected into a short story series now novelized together as a whole) of a mythology handed down by generations of dogs who have inherited the future of earth. This latest edition of CITY ends with a Coda, written by Simak in 1973 and not included in my original copy of City which I read as a teen and again in college. The Coda is a wonderful ending that truly polishes off the story in the best way possible.
WAY STATION on the other hand is one of the best science fiction novels, non-serialized, ever written and to my dismay, too many reviewers give away way too much of the storyline, one which should be approached almost blindly in order to get maximum pleasure from reading it. The novel unfolds with revelations and surprises that are key to the charm and entertainment of the reader. To their credit, when I purchased my copy in 1970 from the Science Fiction Book Club, they lauded the great writer Simak and only teased at the plot of the novel to sell it. Let’s just say that Enoch is a lot older than he appears and over time attracts undue attention to himself from the wrong people. This new trade paperback edition replacing my lost hardback copy, like the replacement for CITY, is handsomely and artistically bound.
Both books are well manufactured with quality paper and great typeface, easy to read for “tired eyes”. Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy gets my two thumbs up just for reissuing these two classics in such nicely made volumes. New readers of Simak will also appreciate the new Introduction in City which gives a brief but informative picture of Clifford D. Simak. Way Station has no introduction, just dive in and drink up!
Top reviews from other countries
An excellent read, I shall look into more of Simak's books.
Gently and humanely written, this story pleases me as much as when I first read it when I was 15 years old-50 years ago! The technology described is surprisingly prescient.
Buy it and read it with a hot mug of drinking chocolate. Great stuff.
Also, unlike say, Project Mastadon, it is a real novel at just over 200 pages.