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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

**** Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. Science fiction.

This is yet another of my flea market finds. Not sure if I mentioned it here or not, but back in Texas, we used to go to Bussey's every couple months or so. We'd meander, get raspas (snow cones for you non-Texans), then once we got to the books, Carl & the kids would go off on their own, and I'd rummage through the boxes and boxes of books for a good hour or more. I always came home with at least a grocery bag full, sometimes more. Heck, at 3 paperbacks for a dollar (category romances were 5/$1), I could get a good month's worth of reading for $10. It was also a great way to make up for my previously odd reading habits and pick up a lot of older books and authors that it seemed everyone but me had read. Unfortunately, that didn't mean I quit buying new books, and the TBR pile got a wee bit out of control.

Anyway, that explains the relatively large number of Arthur C. Clarke books on my list.

Imperial Earth is pretty classic science fiction. Futuristic--300 years in the future from when the book was written (1976), with space travel, and Clarke's vision of how society would have changed in that time.

Hero Duncan Makenzie is making his first (and likely only) trip to Earth from Saturn's moon Titan, on a political mission--the development of a new propulsion system threatens Titan's economy, the major industry of which is providing hydrogen for rockets, and while he's there, to ensure his family's dynasty by having himself cloned--he's a clone of his "father", who is, in turn, a clone of his "father."

The political intrigue was probably my favorite part of the book--I'm always a sucker for intrigue, but the descriptions of life on Titan, and the difficulties of adapting both physically and culturally to life back on Earth were also entertaining and well-explained.

A couple of things jumped out at me as irritants--feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken in my beliefs. 1) Titan is described as having no indigenous life forms, yet it has a core of molten petrochemicals--hydrocarbons. I thought you had to have carbon-based life forms to get petrochemicals. 2) England is described as having had the first empire on earth.

Oddly, the disclaimer in the back of the book doesn't address either of those things--it talks about the cloning and the stated genetic reason for it, which I'd just accepted and didn't think anything more about.

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Hello Darla. What are snow cones?
Whoops. Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_cone.
Obviously the writer of the entry is biased in favor of his/her regional variation of the "snow ball"--I've never seen snow cones or raspas made in advance--but you'll get the idea. :)
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