The Light of Other Days

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9780006483748: The Light of Other Days

In the most exciting SF collaboration ever, Arthur C. Clarke and his universally acknowledged heir Stephen Baxter pool talent, fantastic ideas, unprecedented cosmic insights as well as page-turning plotting skills and breathlessly good writing to produce the most awesome novel of the future since 3001.'Space is what keeps everything from being in the same place. Right?' With these words Hiram Patterson, head of the giant media corporation OurWorld, launches the greatest communications revolution in history. With OurWorld's development of wormhole technology, any point in space can be connected to any other, faster than the speed of light. Realtime television coverage is here: earthquakes and wars, murders and disasters can be watched, exactly as they occur, anywhere on the planet.Then WormCams are made to work across time as well as space. Humanity encounters itself in the light of other days. We witness the life of Jesus, go to the premiere of Hamlet, solve the enigmas that have baffled generations. Blood spilled centuries ago flows vividly once more - and no personal treachery or shame can be concealed.But when the world and everything in it becomes as transparent as glass and there are no more secrets, people find new ways to gain vengeance and commit crime, and Hiram Patterson finds new ways to keep his Machiavellian schemes secret.

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Review:

The crowning achievement of any professional writer is to get paid twice for the same material: write a piece for one publisher and then tweak it just enough that you can turn around and sell it to someone else. While it's specious to accuse Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke of this, fans of both authors will definitely notice some striking similarities between Light of Other Days and other recent works by the two, specifically Baxter's Manifold: Time and Clarke's The Trigger.

The Light of Other Days follows a soulless tech billionaire (sort of an older, more crotchety Bill Gates), a soulful muckraking journalist, and the billionaire's two (separated since birth) sons. It's 2035, and all four hold ringside seats at the birth of a new paradigm-destroying technology, a system of "WormCams," harnessing the power of wormholes to see absolutely anyone or anything, anywhere, at any distance (even light years away). As if that weren't enough, the sons eventually figure out how to exploit a time-dilation effect, allowing them to use the holes to peer back in time.

For Baxter's part, the Light of Other Days develops another aspect of Manifold's notion that humanity might have to master the flow of time itself to avert a comparatively mundane disaster (yet another yawn-inducing big rock threatening to hit the earth); Clarke, just as he did with Trigger's anti-gun ray, speculates on how a revolutionary technology can change the world forever. --Paul Hughes

About the Author:

Born in Somerset in 1917, Arthur C. Clarke has written over fifty books, among which are the science fiction classics 2001, A Space Odyssey. He has won all the most prestigious science fiction trophies, and shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of the film of 2001. He lives in Sri Lanka.Stephen Baxter is the author of the highly acclaimed Xeelee Sequence of fiction and many other award-winning science fiction novels. He lives in Buckinghamshire.

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