Title: The Sentinel
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Page Count: 304
This is a collection of some of Arthur C. Clarke’s short stories, but what’s particularly noteworthy about this one is that all of the stories are illustrated. I also thought it was funny because one of the stories had been in a previous collection that I read and I remembered it in pretty good detail. It was all about the British heir to the throne sneaking onto a space ship because he knows that without stowing away, he’d never be allowed on board.
Clarke is a great ideas man and he went out of his way to put a lot of research into each of his stories. In this collection, he does a bit of an Isaac Asimov, introducing each of the stories and talking about how they came about and whether later scientific theory debunked them. Mostly, though, it seems as though his back of the envelope calculations were generally good enough to get remarkably close to the truth.
All in all, it’s a pretty good little collection of short fiction and one that I’d recommend to both Clarke newbies and to people who are long-term readers of his work. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here, and it’s also quite quaint because of the time it was written in. Some of the space stories were written before Sputnik went up.
There’s even a reference to the Hindenberg disaster because the Challenger disaster hadn’t happened yet. That kind of makes it a fascinating little glimpse of a particular point of history, and that’s an added bonus or a cherry on top of a dessert that’s already pretty sweet. So if you’ve been thinking about giving this one a go, do. It’s decent.