They buy a computer that will reduce this process from 1500 years to 1000 days, as well as two engineers to make sure the computer runs smoothly.The engineers discover that once the list is complete the world will end. Not because the world will end, but because they’re afraid how the monks will react when they discover they were wrong.
From such homey touches, he led the climb to “Wilson’s Folly,” a plateau artificially leveled for a twelve-foot crystal pyramid “machine.” Its force field gave way, after twenty years of frustrated investigation, to an atomic assault which reduced the mystery to fragments.
The rest of the story is speculation, successive stages of Wilson’s inferences.
His 1967 collection of his “favorites” represents many facets of his career, from the raconteur of tall tales and ghost stories to the fantasist, the sentimentalist, the realist, and the poet of wonder.
Most of his best and best-known stories are included, from the haunting rite of passage of a young lunar exile getting his first glimpse of the unapproachably radioactive world of his ancestors (“‘If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth ,’”) to such “alien fables” of technological complacency as “Superiority” and “Before Eden.” “Rescue Party” Among them, “Rescue Party,” his second professionally published story, looks forward to other tales of human progress and alien contact, but it is unusual in its strong story line and alien viewpoint.
Directing its course to the receiving point of a communications array on Earth, the mile-long spaceship, now needing rescue itself, approaches rendezvous with an unexpected fleet of ships from the planet.
Unprecedented in size, this fleet of “primitive” rockets demonstrates an acceleration of man’s technological development so astonishing that the captain, the tentacled Alveron, whose ancient people are “Lords of the Universe,” teasingly suggests the vast Federation beware of these upstarts.
Exposed in his childhood to both the pulp magazines of Hugo Gernsback and the English literary tradition of fantasy and science fiction, Arthur C.
Clarke sometimes forged an uneasy alliance between the two in his own stories.
The matter-of-fact description of the marvelous of H. Wells, the poetic evocation of unknown places of Lord Dunsany, and the immense vistas of space and time of the philosopher Olaf Stapledon lie cheek-by-jowl with artificial suspense devices, awkward sentimentality, schoolboy silliness, and melodramatic manipulation of such hoary motifs as the “stranded astronaut” or the “end of the world” in his less distinguished fiction.
At its best, however, Clarke’s work shows glimpses of man’s rise to interplanetary civilization or evokes the wonder, in suitably subdued tones, of his confrontation with extraterrestrial intelligences.