“Co-operate with the inevitable.”
Best Clark story ever, and it’s not science fiction. Yes, better than either the Space Odyssey or Rama series. Relatable protagonist in a quasi-scientific environment. Much less proselytizing than usual. More human-sized, yet scientifically compelled, not to mention the urgency of World War II.
It was a pity that there was no radar to guide one across the trackless seas of life. Every man had to find his own way, steered by some secret compass of the soul. And sometimes, late or early, the compass lost its power and spun aimlessly on its bearings.
The plot revolves around the wartime development of radar-based ground-controlled approach in England, on which Clark worked. The science is there, but Clark focuses on the people, who are less unpredictable and therefore more interesting.
Perhaps it had been unfair, but the whole operation was symbolic of modern war. Skill and courage and resolution were no longer enough; the time was fast approaching when only machines could fight machines.
Published in 1963, the story still resonates with readers. If you like Clark as I do, you’d love this book.
If one looked too long into the past, it seemed to Alan, the result was always sadness.