Saturday, January 15, 2011

Skirmish : Clifford Simak

Skirmish
By Clifford Simak

I had a rough time getting into the first story, but I really liked the rest of the short stories, which had great writing and a strikingly varied range of tone, characters and subject matter. Just an example of the range is a one-line setup of some of the short stories:

* An very old, out-dated robot, after last generation of the family he has served for 500 years dies out, goes on an adventure
* A man transforms himself into alien creatures to find out why the previous transformed humans have mysteriously disappeared
* A man awakens at the side of the road in the middle of the night clueless as to what he is doing there and slowly figures out the situation
* A superintendent's school results have slowly improved over the last years since two aliens arrived in town.
* A handyman finds that devices are mysteriously being changed and improved inside of his house in ways that he would be incapable of doing.

I really quite enjoyed this one.  I found that I really responded to the main characters, who tended to be relatively normal (as opposed to super-intelligent) people who are put into unusual situations.  Simak describes both the logic that the protagonist take, in addition to their emotional state, which I appreciate.  In addition, it feels like he takes a mind-bender situation and takes it as many levels deep and the resulting consequences as the situation requires, as opposed to other less-talented sci-fi authors who never really get beyond self-appreciation of their clever idea.

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