This is easily among the worst novels I have ever read. And not just by Clarke, or in English.
Almost every para is a jargon-filled garble. One of the most unreadable & tedious books, & without any kind of coherent story.
I forced myself to read first 20% without skipping anything. Then began skipping paras, later pages. There is a whole lot of pages I skipped, but I am completely sure I didn't miss anything of significance!
This book deserves to be in garbage bin rather than on a bookshelf.
Story summary (spoiler).
Key actors are the main protagonist, Hiram Patterson, & his two sons - Bobby Patterson (his clone), & David Curzon. Hiram is a brilliant but ruthless entrepreneur, is working to become immortal, & is portrayed as an extremely dislikable character.
Most of the story is set during a few years beginning 2034; last 20% is set in 2080s; & last few pages are set centuries later.
Main story revolves round a gadget called "WormCam" that Hiram's company invented. A device that acts as a soundless video camera whose lens is virtual - located anywhere in the universe, & at present or at any past time! Where & when targets need to be specified by operator.
Most of the pages are filled with enumeration of the kind of applications made possible by this device - with hardly any story.
Towards the end, when we move to 2080s, the world has changed. Mankind is in the process of redefining itself as a "Joined" organism - a kind of hive intelligence where brains of individuals are linked together via some derivative of WormCam. These linkages are initially done surgically; later, babies are born with these features genetically inherited! It is easy to see an attempt to define the ultimate goal of human existence, in the tradition of "Childhood's End".
We are also told, a few pages before end, that organic life exists on earth because of benign push given billions of years ago by intelligent creatures with sulfur-based chemistry that were also native to earth, & swent extinct soon after because of a meteorite impact. This description reminded me of "The Next Tenants".
End, centuries later, has a single incident where future descendants of humans can talk to those in the past - in the tradition of "The Parasite", though with better intentions. And they plan to resurrect every human that has ever lived & died in the past! In fact, while introducing "The Parasite" in "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke", Clarke notes that Parasite "may have been the subconscious basis for the novel The Light of Other Days".
The Light of Other Days, novel, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke, & Stephen Baxtor
First published: 1999 (?)
Genre: Science Fiction
- Palador of "Rescue Party" is the first occurrence of hive intelligence in a story by Clarke.
- This story has style-similarity with "The City & the Stars". Both attempt to squeeze in every known sf theme in the story! But City is a very readable book.
- Time travel in this story actually involves viewing events of time now in remote past. There is no physical movement to remote time.