Tales from the White Hart (Arthur C Clarke)

It’s been a great Christmas for reading. My brother does a fair amount of reading too and for Christmas he gave me two books. The first to be read is “Tales from the White Hart” by Arthur C Clarke. It’s a collection of short stories told in a regular pub meeting of scientists, writers and publishers. The pub is called the “White Hart” and the stories are all originally told by a character called Harry Purvis. They are re-told and narrated by one of the regulars, whose name I forget as it played little significance in the stories.

One of the stories I’d read in a previous collection, the others were all new, all imaginative and all believable to a point. That’s what I like most about science fiction – the extension of real proven scientific theories into nonsense… or at least what might be nonsense but close enough to possible there might be some truth.

Not all the stories are pure science fiction, some are clever plays on expectation and situation. Without wanting to give away too much, one story centers on scientists working at a weapons research station. Drinking in their local pub, the locals were always naturally cautious about exactly what weapons were being developed (especially remember, this is the 1950’s when the atomic bomb was at the forefront of everyone’s mind). When a lorry comes from the direction of their works towards the pub and crashes in view (though a mile or two away) everyone fears the worst. The locals decide the lorry has come from the works and the speed at which the driver ran away from his overturned lorry suggests they should all be doing the same thing. The scientists are also thinking the same thing. One decides to walk the mile and find precisely what disaster they conspired in releasing in the countryside… it’s not what would seem apparent.

That reminds me of one of my favourite short stories that Arthur C Clarke wrote called “Neutron Tide”. You can read it on this website – it’s less than 5 minutes to read.

Anyway, what Rootie Rating to give Tales from the White Hart? 4 out of 5 – there are some real gems in this book.

Star Risk – The Scoundrel worlds (Chris Bunch), Star Risk – The Doublecross Program (Chris Bunch) and Star Risk – The Dog From Hell (Chris Bunch)

Perhaps I’m going for my longest ever review title, or perhaps the first book was so good I just had to read the following three in quick succession. In the first book, Star Risk Ltd is a fledgling mercenary company out to earn a fortune and take on the universe. I loved how easy to read the books were though missed the thoroughly thought out detail contained in other Sci-Fi stories I have read.
These 3 books continue with the same easy to read style and a couple of nice twists. Our mercenaries get themselves into a couple of difficult situations but between them manage to make every situation work in their favour. A sturdy 3 out of 5 rootie rating for each one of these.

Onto something slightly different. The author, Chris Bunch, died in 2005 (it was mentioned at the beginning of one of the books). I would have thought that this was the end of the Star Risk saga but googling for him brings me to his new book “Star Risk – The Gangster Conspiracy“. Can he write from beyond the grave? Perhaps not. The cover of the new book reads:
“Chris Bunch’s The Gangster Conspiracy, A Star Risk Novel, By Dal Perry & Steve Perry”.
Perhaps he did write some before he died and it was finished but I think the series has been successful enough the publishers and/or his family are allowing it to continue, albeit written by other authors. Chris Bunch, and his creation Star Risk have become a brand it seems, long to continue in print as well as re-print.

Part of me wonders if the new story is up to the same standard (or perhaps better?). If I come across it I’ll read it and let you know. The other part of me is most impressed. I heard somewhere (so take this with pinch of salt) that most authors work is out of print within 5 years of their death. Only a small few reach the immortal status of stories that span generations. If the Gangster Conspiracy is up to scratch, Chris Bunch may be one of the few that achieves an authors immortality. Good for him.

Star Risk (Chris Bunch)

Part one of a sci fi series (I managed to buy all 4 in one go at the second hand bookshop – woohoo!) all covered in bright metallic covers with a stylised logo on the front. My first thoughts… this looks like the sort of thing I would have bought as a teenager… perhaps I shouldn’t buy it now. Still, it was in the Sci-Fi section, and there were 4 of a series so in for a penny, in for a pound (OK, more than a pound, even second hand bookshop owners have to feed their children).

It may be true you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but in this case I managed too. The story is a simply written tale that watches the creation of a mercenary/security company that manage to compete against other companies as they build their fledgling business. All highly skilled, they use a few pieces of technology to outwit their enemies. Of course, they succeed. It really is the sort of book I would have read as a teenager (I found the cover quite appropriate in that respect). I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it’s been a very simple, easy read that required little thought and was actually quite relaxing. Although I can’t rate it as highly as other books I’ve read, I’ll not rate it as poor either. Rootie Rating 3 out of 5 (Now, onto reading book number 2)