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The Light of Other Days
by Stephen Baxter & Arthur C. Clarke

classifications: Science-Fiction / Hard

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Two giants of science-fiction, combining their impressive expertise together to create...quite a good book. While it fails to live up to the expectation generated when you spot the authors on the book's cover for the first time, reading it would not be time wasted, however.

Starting from the development of stable wormholes, Clarke and Baxter let their imaginations wild exploring all the possible ramifications and developments thence made possible. Some of the later technologies arguably stray too far into the fantastical; technology indistinguishable from magic in Clarke's own words. For the most part, however, The Light of Other Days demonstrates some impressive inventiveness on the part of the authors, while remaining believable.

The people inhabiting this new world form an important part in shaping it and as such are depicted in more depth than other hard science-fiction novels; though still never reaching the complexity of more people-oriented genres. Several relationships turn out ot be both more and less than initially anticipated, retaining some surprise twists for the end. The almost utopian happy-ending manages to be both unsurprising and unexpected in equal measure - neither of which is a bad thing. A happy ending is almost assured by the preceeding events, and indeed, suits it well. Yet, the form it takes is not so easily anticipated, not finishing quite where the prologue would lead you to expect.

In short, The Light of Other Days is a competent and enjoyable study of the effects of an invention on society. What it is not, is amazingly original or astoundingly involving, which is a shame considering its pedigree. Nevertheless, it is a worthy read for any science-fiction fan, and is unlikely to disappoint as long as you forget who the authors are.

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