Book Review: A Heritage of Stars by Clifford D. Simak (Three Stars)


Book Review: A Heritage of Stars by Clifford D. Simak

Three Stars

“The best legends may be the best guarded. So sacred, perhaps that no one ever spoke aloud of them.”

Simak is a great story teller, but a mediocre science fiction author. Why? Because he gets so many details wrong. Yes, he wrote (and won awards) in the 60 and 70s, and his stories therefore didn’t anticipate the subsequent computation and communications revolutions. What he didn’t forecast isn’t the problem: it’s what he did–wrongly. (See Quibbles)

“Intellectual curiosity would be, almost by definition, a characteristic of any civilization.”

This tale is set fifteen hundred years after the Collapse of human technology, when humans have reverted to a near-Stone Age culture. Partly offsetting that loss is the blossoming of latent extrasensory talents. Most of the conditions he posits makes more sense three to five hundred years after the Collapse. Few remnants, certainly not maps and paper, would survive 1500 years.

“The arrogance of one way of thought served to strangle all other ways of thought.”

Quibbles: Loose pages in a library table drawer for a thousand years? Myths “must” have “some foundation in actual happenings”? “Now little enough to pillage” fifteen hundred years after the Collapse? Anything to pillage? Trading food for “trinkets”? Tools, maybe, but not beads. “Still standing steel fence”? Neither rusted away nor stolen for its precious metal?

“Who in this environment needs physics and chemistry?”

Fun read, but only as popcorn for the brain.

“Space is an illusion, and time as well.”