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An ageless hermit runs a secret way station for alien visitors in the Wisconsin woods in this Hugo Award-winning science fiction classic Enoch Wallace is not like other humans. Living a secluded life in the backwoods of Wisconsin, he carries a nineteenth-century rifle and never seems to age-a fact that has recently caught the attention of prying government eyes. The truth is, Enoch is the last surviving veteran of the American Civil War and, for close to a century, he has operated a secret way station for aliens passing through on journeys to other stars. But the gifts of knowledge and immortality that his intergalactic guests have bestowed upon him are proving to be a nightmarish burden, for they have opened Enoch's eyes to humanity's impending destruction. Still, one final hope remains for the human race . . . though the cure could ultimately prove more terrible than the disease. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel, Way Station is a magnificent example of the fine art of science fiction as practiced by a revered Grand Master. A cautionary tale that is at once ingenious, evocative, and compassionately human, it brilliantly supports the contention of the late, great Robert A. Heinlein that "to read science-fiction is to read Simak".
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Clifford Simak was raised in Wisconsin, and his science fiction combines galactic scope with nostalgia for the old American Midwest. Way Station (1963) is a fine example of this unlikely mix, and probably his best novel--it won him a Hugo award.
Its hero Enoch Wallace first appears as a mystery man: an impossibly young-looking Civil War veteran, 124 years old and still living in his parents' remote Winconsin farmhouse. Nowadays this building has a glittering, Tardis-like interior, ever since Wallace was recruited by aliens as stationmaster on a minor branch line--not a railway, but Galactic Central's network of matter transmitters carrying passengers between the stars. Earth isn't ready for this secret, and countryman Wallace's best friends are extraterrestrials and ghostly simulations.
When the CIA investigates his reclusive lifestyle, it accidentally stirs up an interstellar diplomatic crisis. Wallace's job, and his place in the countryside he loves, are suddenly threatened. So are his hopes for persuading Galactic Central to step in and halt our accelerating slide towards nuclear war. (The Cuban missile crisis was then recent history.)
All the story threads converge neatly: the rustic lynch mob, the galactics, the CIA, the unhappy ghosts, the local deaf-and-dumb girl who can charm warts and heal butterflies, and the bizarre virtual-reality rifle range built for Wallace by an alien construction team. There are painful losses, victories, and a final note of lonely hope. It's a book of great charm--old-fashioned SF, but timeless rather than dated. --David LangfordReview:
Simak does an excellent job.... [His] ideas are so sharp and his writing so warm. The Guardian
Well-told and interesting... Involving and fast-moving, with plenty of SF heft to its ideas, and plenty of emotional punch as well... Highly recommended. SF Site
This is the Old Master at his best. Las Vegas Review-Journal
"Simak does an excellent job. . . . [His] ideas are so sharp and his writing so warm." --The Guardian
"Well-told and interesting . . . Involving and fast-moving, with plenty of SF heft to its ideas, and plenty of emotional punch as well . . . Highly recommended." --SF Site
"This is the Old Master at his best." --Las Vegas Review-Journal
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