Despite an obvious affinity for the genre and a near frenzied obsession with Jack Vance (the first author to get an unheard of two picks on this blog), I actually have a hard time finding much to get excited about in sci-fi lit. But I was impressed enough by 2001 (the movie) that I picked up this slender Arthur C. Clarke novel fairly certain that it would be a rather dated invasion tale with little to offer more than pleasant diversion between….
I couldn't have been more wrong. I don't want to give too much away, I you'll have more fun if you go into this without knowing the plot (or plots, I should say–the book takes place over many years following many people who do many things). Clarke accomplishes the near impossible when he sets up a mystery towards the beginning, the answer to which is not only one I didn't imagine (rare), but actually made me stop and think to myself, “that is actually really cool”.
The book is about human evolution, not the controversy over whether or not it should be taught in schools that we spend so much time discussing today, but evolution from an actual scientist's point of view considering where we as species are headed. Clearly, Clarke was a very brilliant man with an astounding imagination and I'll be reading more of his work in the future. If you're like me and never touched the stuff before, this is a great one to get you started on the exciting journey that is intelligent science fiction.