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The Nine Billion Names of God

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ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE SENTINEL -- The story which inspired 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; when man sets off the galactic burglar alarm, who will answer the call?


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ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE SENTINEL -- The story which inspired 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; when man sets off the galactic burglar alarm, who will answer the call?

30 review for The Nine Billion Names of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    It was a dreamy fall morning in 1963 when I absently turned on my Grandfather's cabinet style old tube-technology radio. I only wanted to hear a good story! I twiddled the dial till I found our Canadian national radio broadcasting bandwidth. Ah, success. They were announcing this Sunday's program - an SF offering from one of my fave authors in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, which I usually gulped down each month like candy. But I hadn't read this one. With a title like this, it must be deep It was a dreamy fall morning in 1963 when I absently turned on my Grandfather's cabinet style old tube-technology radio. I only wanted to hear a good story! I twiddled the dial till I found our Canadian national radio broadcasting bandwidth. Ah, success. They were announcing this Sunday's program - an SF offering from one of my fave authors in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, which I usually gulped down each month like candy. But I hadn't read this one. With a title like this, it must be deep! Yeah. It was. Deep and murky, sorta like my high school freshman daily regimen. But, then, it was dreamy like my mood... a permanent mood at the time: Green grow the rushes, ho! You got it. How are our Mighty Mouse dreams fallen... By the end of the story I was pacing my room. Because of this dystopian tale, my green dreaminess swiftly became teen doom 'n gloom. And that, in fact, was the zeitgeist all around me after the Cuban Missile Crisis the year before. It was everywhere, home, classroom and ourselves. If that were not enough, our own Once and Future King, JFK, would meet his doom a month from that grim October day. And along with it, I guess, our Camelot was doomed. Why is postmodernity so persnickitously contentious to our ideals? An ill wind was in the works for all of us back then... Blow, blow, thou winter wind Thou are not so unkind As man's ingratitude. Thy tooth is not so keen, Because thou art not seen, Although thy breath be rude... Then, heigh-ho the holly: This life is most jolly! And the unjolly midwinter, so nearly upon us, would be Bleak Indeed after all that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kuhn

    “He was leaning against the wind-smoothed stones and staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he had never bothered to discover.” Arthur C. Clarke is one of my favorite authors. I suppose I’m biased and would enjoy anything written by him. This little eight-page story is not shocking or mind-blowing or even complex. It’s so short, I’m not going to summarize the plot or anything (read it! It's all over the net for free). It’s a straight forward little tale, but it’s the subtleties tha “He was leaning against the wind-smoothed stones and staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he had never bothered to discover.” Arthur C. Clarke is one of my favorite authors. I suppose I’m biased and would enjoy anything written by him. This little eight-page story is not shocking or mind-blowing or even complex. It’s so short, I’m not going to summarize the plot or anything (read it! It's all over the net for free). It’s a straight forward little tale, but it’s the subtleties that make it good. First, it sets up the premise, and explains away plot holes with minimal story. It uses relatively simple language, but still manages to feel eloquent. “He began to sing, but gave it up after a while. This vast arena of mountains, gleaming like whitely hooded ghosts on every side, did not encourage such ebullience.” Second, it doesn’t reveal its theme. It could spark questions around existence or god or such, but it’s certainly not heavy handed in any way. It makes the reader work, it makes the reader ask the questions, rather than have them laid out for them. There are other subtleties such as the fact that the monks are not particularly pious that made me consider it more deeply. “The squat, angular buildings were silhouetted against the afterglow of the sunset; here and there lights gleamed like portholes in the sides of an ocean liner.” Third, it teases the ending, you’ll likely guess the outcome, but then it does leave just enough ambiguity to make you question what Clarke was intending. This, for me, was especially heightened because of another little subtle comment by the monk, “It’s nothing as trivial as that.”, which opens up all kinds of questions. I guess my point is, you could write a much more complex story, raise more obvious questions about life and our existence, but would it be better than this one? I think not.

  3. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Apocalypse Sometime As we approach the 9 billion mark in population sometime around the centennial anniversary of this title story, perhaps it would be prudent to consider Clarke as a prophet who writes cryptically but with some prescience.* Who knows but by then FaceBook will have us all identified, catalogued and tracked. Putin might well be CEO (he of course will live forever), and he could indeed manipulate the news such that the stars start to blink out. I must say also that Clarke gives a v Apocalypse Sometime As we approach the 9 billion mark in population sometime around the centennial anniversary of this title story, perhaps it would be prudent to consider Clarke as a prophet who writes cryptically but with some prescience.* Who knows but by then FaceBook will have us all identified, catalogued and tracked. Putin might well be CEO (he of course will live forever), and he could indeed manipulate the news such that the stars start to blink out. I must say also that Clarke gives a very different meaning to Saramago’s All the Names (See: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). Just sayin’. *I say ‘we’ but of course I won’t be there to enjoy the celebrations (or the mayhem depending 0n conditions). I can only suggest that those who are present keep a sharp lookout for suspicious looking Tibetan monks.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    "And what happens then?" asks the American computer technician, trying to make a joke of it. "The end of the world?" "Oh," replies the monk very seriously, "it's nothing as trivial as that." "And what happens then?" asks the American computer technician, trying to make a joke of it. "The end of the world?" "Oh," replies the monk very seriously, "it's nothing as trivial as that."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Sometimes, I want to feel chills after I read something. Cold chills. And slow ones, too. Chills that make you want to sit still and close your eyes, because you're so incredibly, absolutely freaked out. The title story is not a horror tale. Artie only wrote high-brow sci/fi, which this is. But the ending....well, let's put it this way: I'll never be able to look up at the stars in the night sky and not think of it. (there's a last time for everything) Sometimes, I want to feel chills after I read something. Cold chills. And slow ones, too. Chills that make you want to sit still and close your eyes, because you're so incredibly, absolutely freaked out. The title story is not a horror tale. Artie only wrote high-brow sci/fi, which this is. But the ending....well, let's put it this way: I'll never be able to look up at the stars in the night sky and not think of it. (there's a last time for everything)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nərmin

    The idea of this story-advanced computer technology being used to solve an ancient religious question. Well, story was interesting but ending was a bit scary... I have a love-hate relationship with open-ended stories . Actually, it was not quite open-ended.. Everything just ended...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Allen

    It's hard to know exactly what to mention in a review of a book containing so many short stories, but as this collection contains my two favourites, I suppose I'll mention those. The Nine Billion Names of God was the first Arthur C Clarke story I ever read, and within a week of reading it I was devouring his work. This story appeals to me on so many levels, but the thing that sticks with me the most is the very last line of the story. I can say without a doubt that it's the most beautiful line I It's hard to know exactly what to mention in a review of a book containing so many short stories, but as this collection contains my two favourites, I suppose I'll mention those. The Nine Billion Names of God was the first Arthur C Clarke story I ever read, and within a week of reading it I was devouring his work. This story appeals to me on so many levels, but the thing that sticks with me the most is the very last line of the story. I can say without a doubt that it's the most beautiful line I have ever read. It gives me goosebumps every single time I read it - which is about once a month. The Star appeals to my interests in religion and science and the way they manage to co-exist. It's short, but beautifully conceived, and again, the very last paragraph is masterfully written. The conclusion dawns on you at exactly the right moment. It doesn't have quite the impact for me as the last line of The Nine Billion Names of God, but it's nearly there. Although his full-length works are arguably better known, Arthur C Clarke was a master of the short story. Perfectly structured, beautifully written, and always thought-provoking.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shreyas Deshpande

    My first excursion into Arthur C. Clarke's short fiction seems to have started on a high note. This particular collection of short stories consists of what Clarke considered his personal favourites from among his own work at the time. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are his best body of work, but I did enjoy the the majority of his hand-picked prized entries. Ratings:- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ My first excursion into Arthur C. Clarke's short fiction seems to have started on a high note. This particular collection of short stories consists of what Clarke considered his personal favourites from among his own work at the time. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are his best body of work, but I did enjoy the the majority of his hand-picked prized entries. Ratings:- ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  9. 5 out of 5

    Skallagrimsen

    The best of these stories, "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Star," are all-time classics that every science fiction fan should read. Another, "The Sentinel," inspired 2001, one of the two or three greatest of all science fiction films. Also noteworthy: "The Curse," a somber meditation on nuclear annihilation, and Shakespeare; and the meta-fictional "I Remember Babylon," a cautionary tale about the potential of the communication satellite (a concept which Clarke himself pioneered) to desta The best of these stories, "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Star," are all-time classics that every science fiction fan should read. Another, "The Sentinel," inspired 2001, one of the two or three greatest of all science fiction films. Also noteworthy: "The Curse," a somber meditation on nuclear annihilation, and Shakespeare; and the meta-fictional "I Remember Babylon," a cautionary tale about the potential of the communication satellite (a concept which Clarke himself pioneered) to destabilize and destroy civilizations. The worst aren't bad stories, but trivial by comparison to their more scintillating siblings.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    I've been a practitioner for decades, so I think I can speak on the Tibetan Buddhist rep in this one, and sadly it's atrocious. Utterly ignorant of even the most basic components of the faith, the traditions, the clothing, everything. This shameful lack of research and resulting misrepresentation, paired with other stuff that hasn't aged well, makes it impossible for me to recommend to modern readers. I've been a practitioner for decades, so I think I can speak on the Tibetan Buddhist rep in this one, and sadly it's atrocious. Utterly ignorant of even the most basic components of the faith, the traditions, the clothing, everything. This shameful lack of research and resulting misrepresentation, paired with other stuff that hasn't aged well, makes it impossible for me to recommend to modern readers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    In fact, I only read the eponymous story. Full review and analysis at my blog. A Tibetan monastery buys a computer to help them calculating and printing all possible names of God. They started this manual task some 300 years ago, estimated that it would take another 15,000 years to finish and now want to speed up things - the computer will finish the job within 100 days. Why? In fact, I only read the eponymous story. Full review and analysis at my blog. A Tibetan monastery buys a computer to help them calculating and printing all possible names of God. They started this manual task some 300 years ago, estimated that it would take another 15,000 years to finish and now want to speed up things - the computer will finish the job within 100 days. Why?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    One of my all time favorite collections of stories! [General reaction] This was, as far as I can remember, my very first taste of Clarke when I began my exploration of classic science fiction in the 80s. The first (and title) story is a knock-out. "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov are my two all-time favorite short stories in science fiction. "Names" hooked me on Clarke and made me search out his other work--from the Space Odyssey books through The Tales from One of my all time favorite collections of stories! [General reaction] This was, as far as I can remember, my very first taste of Clarke when I began my exploration of classic science fiction in the 80s. The first (and title) story is a knock-out. "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov are my two all-time favorite short stories in science fiction. "Names" hooked me on Clarke and made me search out his other work--from the Space Odyssey books through The Tales from the White Hart. Clarke's longer works are well worth reading, but he was an absolute master of the short story and this collection is a great introduction to him. ★★★★★ "The Nine Billion Names of God": This title story is a stunner. All about monks who want to use technology to speed up their sacred task. The last line is absolutely perfect. I loved this story when I first discovered Arthur C. Clarke and it still resonates with me. "I Remember Babylon": Clarke places himself as the narrator of this cautionary tale about the dangers that might come with the convenience of satellite transmissions. Those who use propaganda and information as a weapon are always eager for a new method of attack. "Trouble with Time": A clever little mystery about a Martian robbery that goes wrong. Makes a play off of a key plot point from Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. "Rescue Party": Aliens from another part of the galaxy head to Earth on a rescue mission when the scientists of their federation determine that Sol is going to go nova. When the ships arrive, they are confused to find evidence of primitive (by their standards) technology, but also evidence that the inhabitants may have escaped by rocket ship. In the middle of their mission, part of the alien crew gets caught in the humans' underground travel system. Will the rescuers be rescued in time? "Summertime on Icarus": Scientists have always wanted to get a closer view of the sun--but if you get too close, you'll burn alive. Our narrator is part of team who is sent to Icarus (an asteroid that will pass near the sun). They plan to set up instruments on the side that will face the sun and scurry to the dark side before it's too late. And then something goes wrong with the mission... "Dog Star": A story about an astronomer and the dog he rescues...and who rescues him--twice. The second time is after death (the dog's) and far away on the moon. "Hide & Seek": A spy in the interstellar wars manages to out wit the commander of a huge battle cruiser by playing a little game of hide and seek on Phobos. The commander's superiors never could understand why the commander of the fleet's fastest ship couldn't catch a lone man in a space suit. "Out of the Sun": Another story about observing the sun--this time from the surface of Mercury. This time astronomers are left wondering just what exactly is in those solar flares that erupt from the sun? Is it possible that the energy released is the energy of life? "The Wall of Darkness": A story of the single planet revolving around a lone star. A wall of darkness lies at the edge of the habitable region of Shervane's world. And when he learns of it, he becomes determined to find out what is on the other side. Legends say madness lies there. Sometimes, legends hold an element of truth... "No Morning After": A second story about intergalactic beings making an effort to rescue the human race. This time the humans are still on Earth, but only one man is in a receptive state of mind to receive their telepathic messages. And he thinks they're just the after-effects of a bottle of whisky. "The Possessed": Clarke comes up with an interesting reason behind all those lemmings jumping into the sea. "Death & the Senator": Senator Steelman receives two shocks. The first is when, in the months leading up to a possible bid for the Presidency, he's told he's going to die. The second occurs after he has made peace with the fact that is time is running out...only to be told that a new treatment, requiring him to spend time in space, could save his life. Has one the two best last lines in the collection. "Who's There?": When a space station supervisor is told there is a stray object floating about that needs retrieving, he's the only one available to do the job. It should be just routine, but what are those weird noises coming from his space suit? "Before Eden": Earthmen are finally investigating Venus and are surprised to find flowing water at the South Pole (the coolest part of the planet). The biologist is excited to think that they may be there to witness the beginnings of life on the Venus. But will their presence change the course of Venus's history? This is a cautionary tale about how even the smallest change in an environment might cause great harm. "Superiority": A story of David and Goliath on an interstellar scale. The more primitive race takes on those whose weapons are superior, but sometimes giants do fall. And sometimes they even trip over their own feet. "A Walk in the Dark": Robert Armstrong is making his way from camp on an unnamed planet to Port Sanderson where he will catch a ship for home when a series of accidents impedes his journey. First his tractor transport breaks down. He fixes it. It breaks down again. He decides to walk the four remaining miles and sets off with a flashlight. The flashlight goes out. And now he must make the journey in total darkness. Feeling his way along to keep himself on the narrow road. And then he remembers the tale told by the old Base clerk at Port Sanderson about his walk in the dark and the sound of clicking claws he heard... "The Call of the Stars": A man who left his father behind on Earth in order to be among the first on the space station watches the twentieth century turn into the twenty-first from space. He also prepares to watch his son leave him behind to head out on a mission to Mars. "The Reluctant Orchid": A timid young orchid-grower by the name of Hercules is managed by an overbearing aunt. He discovers a carnivorous breed of orchid and imagines a life without his aunt... "Encounter at Dawn": A survey starship with a three-man crew lands on a distant planet much like their own. There they find a bipedal race also much like their own but at a much earlier point of development and they wish they could stay and help the beings lift themselves towards civilization more quickly. [Clearly no Prime Directive in force here...] But they must leave to tend to their own civilization. They wonder what these beings will become. "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth...": Colonists on the moon are the last human beings left after a nuclear war on their home planet. Each generation is taken to a particular place in the colony to look on the Earth and be reminded that the colony must survive so that one day, when it's safe, they can return and reclaim their home. "Patent Pending": A scientist's assistant, Georges, becomes obsessed with a machine that can record sensations and play them back just like music. He decides to use it for erotic pleasure and is so caught up in the experience that he neglects everything and everyone. "The Sentinel": The story from which 2001: A Space Odyssey grew. Explorers on the moon find no sign of intelligent life ever having been there before man...Until they find a lone relic high up in the mountains. The narrator speculates that an ancient alien race placed it there, watching to see if intelligent life ever emerged from the cradle of the Earth. "Transience": In both the first story and here in the penultimate story of the collection, Clarke gives us a view of the end of things. The first story gives us the end of everything. "Transience" shows us that all things change; all things must come to an end. Even our time here on Earth. "The Star": A Jesuit priest/explorer suffers a crisis of faith when the exploration team discovers the protected records of an earth-like civilization lost when their sun went supernova. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting portions of review. Thanks.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brian Ferguson

    My life changed in 1968 at the age of 14 when I saw the the film "2001:A Space Odyssey" in Cinerama (a very wide,curved screen). It opened my eyes to philosophy (Nietzsche), symphonic music ("Also Sprach Zarathustra"), and cinematography (Stanley Kubrick), I began to look for anything related to this film. Soon thereafter I read this book of short stories by the screenwriter of the film, Arthur C. Clarke. The title story "The Nine Billion Names of God" has stayed with me ever since I read it. I d My life changed in 1968 at the age of 14 when I saw the the film "2001:A Space Odyssey" in Cinerama (a very wide,curved screen). It opened my eyes to philosophy (Nietzsche), symphonic music ("Also Sprach Zarathustra"), and cinematography (Stanley Kubrick), I began to look for anything related to this film. Soon thereafter I read this book of short stories by the screenwriter of the film, Arthur C. Clarke. The title story "The Nine Billion Names of God" has stayed with me ever since I read it. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it, but it sure can cause one to reexamine one's assumptions....

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Arthur C. Clarke has never been my favourite science fiction author -- though this is usually considered blasphemy, I don't particularly like the Rama or 2001 series -- but on the other hand he is a prolific and talented short story writer. It didn't take me long to finish this book -- partly because of the length, and the many power outages we have had recently, but also because as soon as you finish one short story you immediately want to move to the next. Arthur C. Clarke has never been my favourite science fiction author -- though this is usually considered blasphemy, I don't particularly like the Rama or 2001 series -- but on the other hand he is a prolific and talented short story writer. It didn't take me long to finish this book -- partly because of the length, and the many power outages we have had recently, but also because as soon as you finish one short story you immediately want to move to the next.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Drew Perron

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The punch of the ending relies on the reader being a smug Westerner who needs jolted out of their fixed viewpoint, so if that's not you, it may be less effective. Still, the combination of computer science and mysticism is always nice. The punch of the ending relies on the reader being a smug Westerner who needs jolted out of their fixed viewpoint, so if that's not you, it may be less effective. Still, the combination of computer science and mysticism is always nice.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Franci

    Interesting concept. I liked the ending a lot.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Good stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abdul Raheem

    God: creates universe "say my name" Universe says God's name God: "k thanx bye" God: creates universe "say my name" Universe says God's name God: "k thanx bye"

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barbm1020

    These stories were maybe 6 stars good when they were new. They are from a time when imagination and extrapolation from new ideas (so many new ideas) eclipsed character. So yeah, they are great stories from an undisputed master. The style is pretty much Man Meets the Future, a celebration of possibilities and an occasional caution about human overconfidence and the fragility of life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    These stories were hit or miss for me. My favorites were Summertime on Icarus (it was exciting), Hide and Seek (view spoiler)[I liked the idea of K.15 running around the little moon hiding from the spaceship (hide spoiler)] , Death and the Senator (view spoiler)[I liked the emotional roller coaster the senator went through, and how he decided he could only find happiness by giving up his ambition. (hide spoiler)] and A Walk in the Dark (it was spooky). Honorable mention to The Nine Billion Names of These stories were hit or miss for me. My favorites were Summertime on Icarus (it was exciting), Hide and Seek (view spoiler)[I liked the idea of K.15 running around the little moon hiding from the spaceship (hide spoiler)] , Death and the Senator (view spoiler)[I liked the emotional roller coaster the senator went through, and how he decided he could only find happiness by giving up his ambition. (hide spoiler)] and A Walk in the Dark (it was spooky). Honorable mention to The Nine Billion Names of God (view spoiler)[Of historical interest given the obvious relation to Unsong (hide spoiler)] , Dog Star (it was cute), The Wall of Darkness (view spoiler)[It was fun to think about living on a tidally locked world, and it's a cool concept that the bottom of their world could be a surface that brings you back to where you started. But it doesn't make that much sense to me that the wall was built to stop people from going mad. (hide spoiler)] , and No Morning After (funny idea). For most of the stories, though, it felt like not much happened or the ideas weren't explored very much. Short stories are not always my favorite to begin with, but these were not my favorite short stories either.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I came across this book as I was looking at the significance of true names. I didn't read the whole collection, but I read the first and last stories and enjoyed them, despite their calling into question the truth of Christianity. What I enjoyed was the sense of shock at the end, a shock that made me raise my eyebrows, shake my head, and laugh. So in that sense the stories were "good" stories—they raised important questions and made me think, and I enjoyed the process. Plus, they're very short s I came across this book as I was looking at the significance of true names. I didn't read the whole collection, but I read the first and last stories and enjoyed them, despite their calling into question the truth of Christianity. What I enjoyed was the sense of shock at the end, a shock that made me raise my eyebrows, shake my head, and laugh. So in that sense the stories were "good" stories—they raised important questions and made me think, and I enjoyed the process. Plus, they're very short stories (5–10 pages each). "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Star" both have Wikipedia pages, and a 1985 Twilight Zone episode adapted "The Star" for television. The TV version (see Part 1 and Part 2) ends more optimistically than the story does.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ran

    If you're a fan of science fiction, if your imagination takes you to the stars and thinking about its vastness and our existence in the universe humbles you and fills you with awe, you will LOVE this book. Some of these stories are just incredible in both concept and the impactful way that they're told. I can definitely say that this is now one of my favorite books and I can't believe I haven't read it until now. If you're a fan of science fiction, if your imagination takes you to the stars and thinking about its vastness and our existence in the universe humbles you and fills you with awe, you will LOVE this book. Some of these stories are just incredible in both concept and the impactful way that they're told. I can definitely say that this is now one of my favorite books and I can't believe I haven't read it until now.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    Not only a short story collection, but a collection of VERY short stories (some surprisingly so). In spite of their concise length, the stories have a collective power that is very disturbing at times, as it seeks to point an accusing finger at the innate hubris of humanity...and succeeds in any number of ways. This can truly be described as Arthur C Clarke distilled.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    A classic short story, with one of the all-time classic last lines!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matjaz

    An amusing short story. Buddhist monks buying a supercomputer... the idea is a first for me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Kuckkahn

    Personal Response: I didn't find this short story to be particularly interesting at all. The plot doesn't seem well thought out and is kind of disappointing for the title the story bears. I'm sure the concept could've been more interesting with more emotional or moral stakes, but the stakes here just seem lazy. Plot: Dr. Wagner is requested by a Tibetan monastery to supply and maintain the condition of an automatic sequencing machine. The lama there explains that they want to sequence and record al Personal Response: I didn't find this short story to be particularly interesting at all. The plot doesn't seem well thought out and is kind of disappointing for the title the story bears. I'm sure the concept could've been more interesting with more emotional or moral stakes, but the stakes here just seem lazy. Plot: Dr. Wagner is requested by a Tibetan monastery to supply and maintain the condition of an automatic sequencing machine. The lama there explains that they want to sequence and record all of the names of God, and the automatic sequencing machine will have the job done astronomically faster than any number of scribes could have done it. 3 months later, Dr. Wagner is talking to his partner George about the project, and George reveals that the monks believe when the names are completed that the world will come to an end as God's purpose will be fulfilled. Afraid at any financial and physical reprimand from the monks, after the world fails to end, Dr. Wagner and George plans to slow down the machine until their plane arrives in a few weeks. As Dr. Wgner and George approach their plane on horseback and prepare to leave, they comment on how insane the monks are to believe that simply listing names would bring about the end of all things, but as George takes a look at the sky he realizes that all of the stars are going out. Characterization: Dr. Wagner: A scientist who created the automatic sequencing machine. He is recruited by the monks to allow the usage of and to maintain the machine. George: Dr. Wagner's partner. The lamas: Leaders of the Tibetan monastery who believe that listing all of the names of God will bring about the end of the world. Setting Analysis: Dr. Wagner and his friend are far away from home and require a plane to get back. This causes tension that doesn't amount to anything, as the scientists want to delay the machine until their plane arrives. This story could've been placed anywhere in the world, as long as there is some type of religious background. The setting does, however, contribute to a very subtle mysterious feel, as most readers just don't have any experience with Tibetan monks or their culture. The setting just does not have a great impact on the story. Thematic Connections: Perhaps the story tries to get across how religion isn't that crazy of an idea, or maybe how we can never be certain that another's religion is false. There is an obvious conflict between what the scientists believe and what the monks believe, after all. Another possible theme could be how certain religious groups are willing to do anything for their diety, and we should be careful in what technology we give to who. Recommendations: I would say that this story isn't really worth anyone's time at all. The plot is dead simple, and the moral of the story is cloudy at best. There's on meaningful tension and no mystery. This story feels more like a history textbook. Anyone who's 6 years or younger might enjoy this book for the simplicity and high-world ending- stakes, but other than that, the story is not worth your time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have a whole bunch of reasons why I hate writing like this. But mostly it boils down to bo-o-o-ri-i-i-ng... and it ain't the physics. I'll read physics till the stars die. The Prince Charles story nearly made me quit but I stuck with it because reasons (mostly related to goodreads targets). The War of the Worlds story made me long for Vonnegut, who would at least have got a sociologically interesting point in there somewhere. For all that Clarke cast aspersions on the social sciences, if he'd I have a whole bunch of reasons why I hate writing like this. But mostly it boils down to bo-o-o-ri-i-i-ng... and it ain't the physics. I'll read physics till the stars die. The Prince Charles story nearly made me quit but I stuck with it because reasons (mostly related to goodreads targets). The War of the Worlds story made me long for Vonnegut, who would at least have got a sociologically interesting point in there somewhere. For all that Clarke cast aspersions on the social sciences, if he'd actually read any perhaps he would have been able to imagine more interesting worlds, rather than this world but with slightly different gravity (and if there's a woman there she's just for a man to try to have sex with, and there are likely other 'races' to dominate... I mean I know values have changed but come on man). When I was a kid, my primary school library had a bunch of Clarke and Asimov etc and I would give it a try from time to time (because cool pictures of robots and space on the cover), but quit after a few pages, bored to snoozes. I thought that might have been a maturity thing but actually maybe 10-year-old me had decent taste. When I think about why I didn't go on to study physics formally, I think it's likely because my high school physics teacher loved this boring junk and I kind of felt like maybe it was a prerequisite. If someone had told me that physics is almost entirely maths, maybe I would be doing something different right now. Or maybe nah because social sciences are important and hard sciences are much more social than (white, male) hard scientists like to admit. Anyway, to recap, bo-o-o-ri-i-i-ng...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dhara (dha.raiter)

    A fast, flowy read like most of Arthur C. Clarke's short stories. I felt a bit lukewarm about the ending. How I feel about it depends a lot on what Clarke was trying to convey through this story. Was it about always keeping an open mind because you never know? Was it to portray the contrast between the pragmatism of the west vs. the faith of the east in the 50s? Was it a commentary on organized religions and the eternal entitlement of the spokesperson/gatekeepers of 'God'? Was the ending was wha A fast, flowy read like most of Arthur C. Clarke's short stories. I felt a bit lukewarm about the ending. How I feel about it depends a lot on what Clarke was trying to convey through this story. Was it about always keeping an open mind because you never know? Was it to portray the contrast between the pragmatism of the west vs. the faith of the east in the 50s? Was it a commentary on organized religions and the eternal entitlement of the spokesperson/gatekeepers of 'God'? Was the ending was what it was? I don't know. As a skeptic who knows Clark was a fellow skeptic (and an atheist), I resonate more with the message that speaks about how organized religion, in this case, the monks, feel it's in their hands to decide what happens with humanity, in this case using technology and permutations, in the name of 'god'.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris Papastergiou

    My last read for 2020. I liked it, a fine story and a great-written one by a master of his craft. Would recommend to anyone who likes staring at the night sky! Happy New Year! PS. I hope 2020 doesn't end the same way the book does! PS2. Or maybe I do! My last read for 2020. I liked it, a fine story and a great-written one by a master of his craft. Would recommend to anyone who likes staring at the night sky! Happy New Year! PS. I hope 2020 doesn't end the same way the book does! PS2. Or maybe I do!

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