Friday, June 21, 2013

"Cemetery World" Review

Clifford D. Simak is a name that any hardcore science fiction fan will be familiar with, but for some reason his works haven't become as popular in the present day as some other authors.  Which is a shame, really, because he has some of the best conceptual work that I've come across.  The books that I've read of his have all been phenomenal (City, A Heritage of Stars, and now Cemetery World).

Cemetery World is one of those great, almost unknown works.  On the surface the book appears very simple, but there are a myriad of concepts that push it over the edge.  Imagine a cemetery that covers a good part of a world -- so much so that it becomes known for it.  Who controls the cemetery?  What is going on, and why does our hero and heroine come to this world?  Simak's treatment of machines is one of the most interesting that I've come across.  Given enough time, what boundaries would remain for robots?  Could they become human?  Other concepts that Simak explores include mutation, the aftermath of nuclear war, and time distortion.  He also introduces a new art form -- a machine that captures all of the senses of a new place and can readily replay them for its users.  I recall reading about something like this in one of Niven's short stories, but the two authors approach the matter in different ways.  One last thing.  I don't want to give too much away, but let's say that fans of Bradbury's Hound and Simak's dogs will also find something to like in this book.

All in all, I would recommend Cemetery World as a quick but challenging read.  I know that this is a fairly short review, but I don't want to spoil anything.  Happy reading!

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