“I am a Stranger in a Strange Time.”
A fitting close to the story that electrified America fifty years ago. (Well, the movie based on the story.) Clark closes the loop opened by the stirring overture music. Published in 1997, this story anticipates the ubiquity of computers, jihadist terrorism, and pandemics.
“Forget you’re an engineer—and enjoy yourself.”
Curiously, his thesis is that mankind isn’t responsible for our aggressive tendencies; we were programmed that way by interfering aliens. Millions of years ago.
“He had to admit that the selection was well done, by someone (Indra?) familiar with the early Twenty-first Century. There was nothing disturbing—no wars or violence, and very little contemporary business or politics, all of which would now be utterly irrelevant.”
Rides his usual hobby horses—anti-war, anti-religion, anti-government, anti-anti. His ideas aren’t necessarily logical, but he presents them well. Not terribly interested in facts. When writing a book set in 3001, who can say what they know about the world of 2001?
“Corpse-food was on the way out even in your time,” Anderson explained. “Raising animals to—ugh—eat them became economically impossible.
Quibbles: “The general consensus about the single greatest work of human art. Over and over again, in almost every listing—it’s Angkor Wat.” (his consensus) “Lenin was unlucky; he was born a hundred years too soon. Russian communism might have worked—at least for a while—if it had had microchips. And had managed to avoid Stalin.” (his 1997 perspective) “How long would it take to build a super-bomb?” “Assuming that the designs still exist, so that no research is necessary—oh, perhaps two weeks. Thermonuclear weapons are rather simple, and use common materials.” (Plutonium and refined U-235 would not be common in a world with no nuclear reactors.) I can’t find a source, but I thought we knew that Ceres was mostly ice by 1997, so ice mining in the Oort Cloud would be stupidly and expensively unnecessary. Not to mention slow.
“For ordinary humans only two things were important: Love and Death. His body had not yet aged a hundred years: he still had plenty of time for both.”